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Net tax: pay more to surf in Kalimpong

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By REZA PRADHAN in Kalimpong
  • Published 10.04.03

Kalimpong, April 10: Taking cue from Darjeeling, the Kalimpong Internet Café Association has increased surfing charges from today. The decision follows the imposition of 8 per cent service tax on Internet cafes. The surfing centres, which till yesterday had charged Rs 40 each hour, have increased the amount to Rs 60.

“The main reason why we have hiked the charges is because of the 8 per cent service tax we have to pay on the telephone bill. The total cost will now go up by one third,” said president of Kalimpong Internet Café Association Prafulla Rao. “The hike in the charges is meant to meet the taxes. The profit we make will remain the same,” he added.

The government’s proposal to slash the pulse rate along with the increase in the charges of commercial power supply has added to the existing woes of the Internet café owners. “The pulse rate is expected to go down and an increase in electricity charges is also anticipated. If we have to pay most of our profits to the government in the form of taxes, we will be left with no option but to close down our business,” said Rao.

“This is not the only problem we are facing. At times, the telephone does not work for days and the speed at which the Internet provider works is nothing more than an apology. Kalimpong can be said to have the worst Internet connection among the three hill subdivisions,” the president said.

Most Internet cafes in Kalimpong will increase surfing charges. “The cafes here have agreed to keep a uniform rate,” said Rao.

“We have also increased the surfing charges to Rs 60 for each hour. Not only has the tax increased our plight, but Internet business is also not doing well in Kalimpong,” said Bhanu Pradhan, a proprietor of an Internet cafe at Maa Super Market .

The residents of the region, however, are not sympathetic towards the café owners. “The Internet connection in Kalimpong is the worse I have seen. Added to that is the increase in the surfing charges,” said Kalimpong resident Prem Chettri.

A frequent Internet surfer Suman Pradhan said: “It will be impossible to visit cafés regularly because of the steep rate.”

“Though we cannot provide better services, we are forced to charge this amount as there is no other way out,” said Rao.

“In the hills, the dial-up provision used for Internet connection is primitive. In Siliguri, they have introduced broad bands like the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), which provide better services at a cheaper rate,” he added.