Telecoms bake taxes into new call rates, cancels some packages

Published: Sunday | July 22, 2012 Comments 0

Digicel Jamaica and LIME Jamaica have adjusted charges to compensate for the new telecoms tax on fixed and mobile calls, changes that took effect last week.

Digicel's notification to customers, which surfaces when credit balances are checked, reads: "A new government tax of 40 cents per minute (is) on all applicable minutes from July 16."

Minister of Finance Dr Peter Phillips imposed a levy of five cents per minute on fixed line calls, 40 cents for mobile calls made from and in Jamaica, and 7.5 US cents for income calls from overseas.

The new tax measure is meant to raise J$5.25 billion as funding for the budget.

LIME has abandoned several of its cheaper bundled packages and cut minutes from others, but said rates for its Talk EZ plan - which together with the Extra Large value plan makes up 90 per cent of its credit market - remains unchanged.

The rate for Talk EZ remains at J$1.99 for post-paid and J$2. 99 per minute for prepaid. The rate of J$6.99 per minute to call other networks with Talk EZ also remains unchanged.

extra-value savings

LIME said the extra-value package now reflects savings with one flat rate of J$8.39 per minute, as opposed to J$8.40 for on-network calls, and J$12 for cross-network calls.

"Some will see significant savings," Grace Silvera, head of corporate communications for LIME, said Wednesday.

Other bundled plans from LIME have been adjusted, for example, all WorldPak plans have been cut by 25-33 per cent - for instance, WorldPak 200 now offers 90 minutes instead of 120 minutes; LIME has also cancelled four packages including Worldpak 350 and Campus Crew.

The move, for consumers, represents a dilution of recent benefits gained from recent cuts in call rates from the dealers.

Flow Jamaica did not respond to requests for comment.

Digicel Jamaica CEO Mark Linehan, when the tax was first mooted in May, swiped at it as a short-term gain for Government but detrimental to his sector in the long term.

"The imposition of these taxes will severely restrict further investment in Jamaica by the operators and their ability to assist in the development of the economy, ultimately harming businesses and consumers," he said then.

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