DUSHANBE, April 7, 2011, Asia-Plus - The government is currently considering the possibility of canceling VAT on foreign traffic, the Communications Service head Beg Zuhurov told Asia-Plus.

Zuhurov, however, noted that he was not ready to provide more detailed information on this subject.

Russia’s news agency, RBK daily, recently reported that Russian cellular operators would be forced to considerably reduce international transit traffic in Tajikistan if local regulator did not review its position regarding collection of taxes from mobile phone companies.  “In this case, profitability of business in Tajikistan will substantially decreased and it is not clear in such a situation to what an extent it will be expedient to work in such a region,” one of the market participants was quoted as saying.  According to him, Tajik authorities have collected a 12 percent VAT on foreign traffic over the past three years.  Moreover, amendments made to the Tajik tax code in January obligate to pay VAT for local partner operators as well.  This leads to decline in transit traffic volumes and business of operators in Tajikistan is becoming unprofitable, he added.

Official representatives of Russian mobile phone companies operating in Tajikistan have refrained from commenting upon this statement.

Meanwhile, the Communications Regulatory Agency head Qadamjon Sayfiyev noted that Tajikistan was able to provide the population with cellular communications services on its own.  “Even if Russian mobile phone companies stop their activities in the country, we will lose nothing by it, because domestic cellular operators are able to fully meet requirements of the country’s cellular communications market.”

Six mobile providers reportedly now function in Tajikistan: MLT; Babilon-Mobile; Tcell, Tacom; TK-Mobile; and Tajik Telecom.  Two of them – Tacom and MLT -- are now joint ventures between Russian and Tajik companies; Russian cellular operator VympelCom reportedly assumes the 80% ownership interest in Tacom and Russian cellular operator MegaFon owns 75 percent of the shares in MLT.

A total annual aggregate profit o these six companies is estimated at some 300 million U.S. dollars.