Former telecoms regulator blasts internet tax plan

Banking

The proposed tax on internet usage will hurt Hungarian businesses, obstruct social mobility and reduce freedom of the press, according Krisztina Rozgonyi, the former head of the Hungarian telecoms regulatory body, who joined a chorus of critics of the plan.

Rozgonyi, who was appointed head of the National Communications Authority of Hungary under the previous Socialist government and was replaced after Fidesz took power in 2010, told bbj.hu:

"The internet tax, at approximately 0.5 EUR/GB, is the worst idea this government has come up with regarding taxes recently. It will hurt smaller ISPs and thus reduce competition for better service and lower prices for users. Also, since ISPs will transfer the tax to users, it will increase the digital divide: People with less disposable income will buy limited, lower quality service, or give up home internet use all together. Thus it will further obstruct upward social mobility through online learning and acquiring skills through digital channels.

"It will hurt the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy, which is already lagging behind our neighbors, since SMEs, who are hurt by high VAT, low consumption and high taxes, will further decrease their internet/telecoms use. This will reduce their growth potential and make them lose jobs. The tax will hurt online press and the blogosphere for obvious reasons – this is also in line with government policy to control media and civil society. It is also interesting that when in opposition, Fidesz strongly opposed internet tax in 2008. Apparently, the current government is continuing its policy of increasing inequality, obstructing social mobility, and putting a leash on creative industries, democratic movements and people who value freedom of speech."

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