By Hend El-Behary
The Ministry of Finance is studying the feasibility of a one-piaster-per-minute fee on every mobile phone call as a way of boosting state resources after the increase of the general budget deficit, said Minister of Finance Momtaz Al-Saeed.
It was announced in a conference held yesterday titled “Engagement with the Private Sector,” which discussed strategic collaboration with the private sector to achieve economic development. The event was attended by the ministers of finance, investment and planning.
“Telecommunication companies make around EGP 26 billion annually, and the government has the right to a share of such profits in order rescue the economy,” Al-Saeed added. He also said no decisions had been made yet.
According to a report published by the Ministry of Telecommunication, there are around 92.6 million mobile phone subscribers in Egypt, all of whom may be compelled to pay a fixed fee each time they make a call.
Fees will be collected by the three main cellular carriers in Egypt (Vodafone, Mobinil and Etislat) to be then directed to the public treasury.
The current Egyptian taxation system includes fees on agricultural lands, real estate, and income. The government’s attempt to impose a new tax in order to expand its yield is likely to increase the burden on the average citizen.