“The government has no say in the imposition of service tax by telecommunication companies (telcos) on pre paid reloads and pre paid starters/SIM packs” says Minister of Information Rais Yatim. Beginning September 15, 2011 pre paid mobile users will be incurred a service tax of 6% whenever they buy a start kit or reload.
How easy it is for a minister to say such a thing, knowing full well that it is his responsibility to protect consumers against ‘unregulated price hikes’ by telcos. Yes, we have laws, policies, regulations and what not, but this price hike of 6% is hurting the pockets of mobile users of the lower income group that prefers pre paid rather than post paid. I think the minister isn’t aware of this because he may not be a pre paid mobile user, and I believe being a minister, his post paid mobile bills are charged to the government. I also think being a minister he does not even need to buy a hand phone, as it all comes at public expense.
I remembered in the late 80’s when mobile phones was a fashion. I too was caught in this new fashion trend and purchased a mobile phone the size of my size 8 shoe at exorbitant price. I use to boast around with my new found toy to impress others that I could now communicate with people outside the confines of my office or residence. The mobile phone was bulky. It wasn’t possible that I keep it in my trouser or shirt pocket. I had to keep it in my brief case. It wasn’t a policy then where officers holding ‘critical positions’ were equipped with a mobile phone at government expense; like it is today. I soon found that my new found toy was a bothersome i.e. high phone bill, too large to carry around and more importantly, just could not stop my boss and officers from calling me that I finally decided to do away with the cumbersome mobile phone.
Now getting back at the 6% hike in service tax for pre paid mobile phone users, I think the telcos are aware that there is a lot of money to be made by imposing the service tax. You and I know that the millions of illegal and legal foreign workers prefer the pre paid rather than the post paid. And if one were to conduct a nationwide survey on the preference of pre paid over post paid for mobile phones, I am sure pre paid outnumbers post paid users. So, do you now see the logic of the imposition of the service tax? If an idiot like me can see the logic of the increase in service tax, I do not see how the learned minister wasn’t able to rationalize this issue, unless he is a much bigger idiot than me.
I think we have enough of these price hikes that know no limit. And for a minister to come forward with such a statement, and for whatever reason, is to me an irresponsible statement and a defeatist.
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