DUSHANBE, April 11, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- Commenting on the report released by RBK daily, Sergey Mironov, top manager of the Tacom mobile phone operator, which operates in Tajikistan under the trademark of Beeline, has stated that VympelCom is not going to reduce or suspend its service in Tajikistan.

“We were surprised to see that report,” said Mironov, “We do not agree with this report and consider it incorrect to give information of such kind on behalf of Russian companies.”

We will recall that 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.

Mironov, however, agreed that Tajikistan’s imposition of excise tax for cellular communications services has really complicated activities of cellular operators in the country.  According to him, these funds could go to supporting development of the cellular communications.  “We, however, understand this decision of the Tajik Government,” said the Tacom top manager, “We realize that the Tajik Government has made this decision proceeding from top priorities of the country and in terms of its benefit to the state.  We understand this decision, though it hampers development of the company’s activity.”  Sergey Mironov has expressed hope that the excise tax will be cut or canceled at all.

On the indirect tax (VAT) on foreign traffic, he noted that the company’s lawyers considered that it contradicted international law.  “We hope that the Government of Tajikistan will cancel VAT on foreign traffic that will improve Tajikistan’s investment attractiveness,” Mironov said.

Major Russian cellular operator, open joint-stock company (OJSC) “Vympel-Communications” (VympelCom) reportedly purchased a 60% stake in Tajik cellular operator, Tacom, for $12 million in December 2005.  Tacom is licensed to provide cellular communication services in Tajikistan in the GSM-900/1800, UMTS, CDMA-450, and AMPS standards.  VympelCom now assumes the 80% ownership interest in Tacom.

There is another Tajik-Russian joint mobile phone operator – MLT.  Russian cellular operator MegaFon owns 75 percent of the shares in MLT.

In all, six mobile providers reportedly now function in Tajikistan: MLT; Babilon-Mobile; Tcell, Tacom; TK-Mobile; and Tajik Telecom.  A total annual aggregate profit of these companies is estimated at some 300 million U.S. dollars.