Bangladesh’s three private mobile phone operators have spent Tk 87 billion for online advertisements alone, reveals a report submitted to the High Court by the Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
Mobile phone service providers Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink paid the money to different social media and online platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube, IMO, Whatsapp, BTRC told the HC bench comprising justice Moinul Islam Chowdhury and justice Md Ashraful Kamal.
BTRC’s system and service division’s deputy director engineer Nahidul Hasan submitted the report to the High Court recently.
BTRC lawyer AKM Alamgir Parvez told Prothom Alo that Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink paid over Tk 87,441,905,073 over the last five years for the advertisements online.
According to the BTRC report, Grameenphone alone spends USD 433,125,629 for online advertisement while Robi spends USD 321,338,000 and Banglalink USD 286,469,967. In total the three companies paid out USD 10,400,900,000.
BTRC wrote a letter to the mobile phone operators seeking the expenditure breakdown within 7 August,.
On 9 April 2019, six lawyers filed the writ petition with the apex court accusing the Google, Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube of evading taxes.
Following the writ, the High Court handed down a rule asking the concerned authorities why Google, Amazon, Facebook and YouTube won’t be placed under the revenue net.
The court also asked the authorities concerned to form an expert committee and file a report on the income of the online platforms from Bangladesh.
Writ petitioner lawyer Mohamamd Humayun Kabir told Prothom Alo that different social media and online platforms like like Google, Facebook, YouTube, IMO, Whatsapp earned Tk 87 billion from the three phone operators. But the companies have no offices in Bangladesh.
BTRC lawyer Alamgir Parvez said BTRC has sent a letter to Google, Facebook and YouTube among five companies to set up their own offices in Bangladesh.
This report reveals a partial scenario of how much money the company like Google has taken from Bangladesh for advertisements, he added.
Other than the phone companies, many Bangladeshi companies, institutions and individuals are circulating advertisements on various online media. The media is taking huge amouts money from the country, the lawyer added.
Deputy attorney general Tushar Kanti Roy, who was state counsellor in writ petition, told Prothom Alo that in another report submitted to the court by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) said the government has earned Tk 1.33 billion from advertisements online.
Bangladesh Bank’s lawyer Shamim Khaled, he added, filed a plea seeking extension of time over filing a detailed report in this regard.
The report will be submitted on the next hearing to be held on 30 October.
“Once the report is submitted, the whole picture of how much money the foreign companies like Google, Facebook has earned from Bangladesh will be revealed,” Tushar said.