The decision to absorb the additional 4.5 per cent Value Added Tax on mobile phone use appears to be paying dividends for the Irish telecommunications company, Digicel (Barbados) Limited.
Chief Executive Officer Conor Looney said the phone company had seen a rise in its customer base since announcing on January 8 that it would pay the additional VAT on behalf of its subscribers.
Looney, who assumed the CEO position about five weeks ago, said there was certainly a “bounce” in the over 200,000 customer base, as well as data plan subscribers.
“We have seen a bounce. It actually coincided with me arriving in Barbados, but . . . the fact that we actually absorbed the VAT for those customers we have certainly seen an increase in subscriber numbers, and we have also seen an increase in data plan subscriber numbers,” he told reporters today at the company’s Colonade, Bridgetown location as the company celebrated 12 years of operation here.
Government announced late last year that VAT on mobile phone and data use would rise from 17.5 per cent to 22 per cent effective January 1 this year.
Cell phone users immediately expressed displeasure with the rise and Digicel customers welcomed the company’s announcement, while some Flow customers also told Barbados TODAY at the time that they would consider changing providers.
“So more people are joining the bigger better network, they are joining the Digicel family. It is not just after 12 years but it is even after the last five weeks since that [the VAT increase] happened at the beginning of January.”
Looney refused to say how many new customers the phone company had attracted. However, he said people were signing up “on a daily basis”.
“I am not going to give the increase in percentage in customers. I am very happy with the number of customers we have brought on to the network [and] have become a part of the family, but then we see more customers joining Digicel on a daily basis,” he said.