24 April Kathmandu, 2020
ISPAN Claims Huge Loss in the Internet Service Business, Demands Relief through Tax Exemption, and Loan Facility. The Internet has become a necessity to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the surge in internet usage during the lockdown in Nepal, it has put more financial burden on Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Recently, Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) had released a notice for all ISPs urging them to continue internet services even if users don’t pay bills on time. However, the Internet Service Providers’ Association Nepal (ISPAN) sent a letter to NTA in response to the notice. The notice highlights the inability of ISPs to provide continuous unpaid internet services to all customers.
It also states, “It has been reported that the ISPs are providing continuous unpaid internet service to the physically challenged, elderly clients who have no helper at home.”
The ISPs don’t think it is a practical move to continue unpaid internet services for all customers. Although, they have been extending grace periods and encouraging digital payment services.
On April 24, 2020 (Baisakh 12), ISPAN sent a letter to the government through NTA informing about the damage to the internet business due to COVID-19. The letter also mentions that is has become difficult to collect service charges from the customers. The purpose of the letter is to demand relief for the damage caused.
In the letter, ISPAN has demanded a relief package consisting of 12 points from the government through NTA.
Here are some of the points of the demand:
- The reverse VAT on importing bandwidth and channel subscription services should be reduced by 5 percent and the TDS rate by 6.5 percent.
- 50% tariff and exemption on the import of goods required to provide internet service.
- There should be a refinancing facility for loans being consumed by the ISPs.
- 25% refund on corporate income tax.
- Waiving the telecommunication service charges for the benefit of the customers.
- Increase the loan’s interest payment period by three months.
- Various government agencies must waive the late fee on all kinds of fees and taxes.
- Provision of loans for six months from RTDF fund at a minimum interest rate to pay for the purchase of internet bandwidth of three months.
- 50% exemption in the income tax paid by the employees in the current fiscal year.
- Provision of working capital loans to all ISPs for working capital expenditure for a minimum of six months based on the current investment.
- Extension of the deadline for payment of RTDF and royalty to 12 months.
- Provision of exemption for late fees and penalties in the amounts taken by NTA under various topics.
The ISPs are currently accepting online payments to collect internet bills. They are urging customers to use a digital wallet or other platforms to make payments. Similarly, they are extending the grace periods considering the circumstances of the customers during the lockdown. However, their motive remains to reach as many customers as possible for bill payment
During such difficult times, we would urge people to help their neighbors, families, and friends to pay internet bills through online platforms.