The head of the Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (Minsvyazi) of Belarus, Sergey Popkov, says that he will propose an increase in tariffs for fixed communications services, adding though that any such decision would be taken jointly with the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade. Popkov says the ministry is considering bringing in regulated tariffs ‘up to the level of reimbursement’ (i.e. to allow the telcos to recoup the money spent or lost on providing such services), although he noted that any increases should not exceed the rate of inflation. He also pointed out that within a broad range of measures being considered, there is also wiggle room to reduce interconnection costs.
The last time Minsvyazi increased the cost of some telephony services was March 2017, while on 1 April 2016 Finance Minister Vladimir Amarin confirmed that the government had agreed to increase the VAT rate for fixed line operator Beltelecom and for domestic mobile operators from 20% to 25%, effective 1 April. The minister said that the increase – embodied in Decree No. 111 of 25 March 2016, ‘On Approval of the Tax and the Living Wage’ – affects all types of telecommunications, including internet and landline services. At the time he could not rule out the possibility that the hike in the VAT rate would be passed on to end users, something that critics of the plan had feared.