Country’s leading mobile phone operators Grameenphone and Robi have filed two separate cases at Dhaka court, seeking injunctions against the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s (BTRC’s) claim of Tk. 13,447 crore.
Grameenphone (GP) lodged the case on August 26, while Robi had done so a day earlier on August 25. The telecom regulator, meanwhile, has thought of appointing an administrator to realise its dues as the two operators have been reluctant to pay.
On September 5, the BTRC served show-cause notices to the country’s two largest telecom operators, giving them 30 days to reply to explain why their licences should not be cancelled for not paying the dues. GP and Robi on September 6 sought more time from the BTRC and asked the telecom regulator to revoke the 30-day deadline.
The operators said for realising dues, there were provisions of filing cases under the Public Demands Recovery (PDR) Act, but the BTRC had not opted for that path. The Independent asked BTRC officials about filing cases against the two telecom operators under the PDR Act, but they declined to comment.
Both GP CEO Micheal Folly and Robi CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said the government should go for arbitration to realise their dues and fix the brawl between the operators and the regulator due to an audit dispute.
GP owes Tk. 12,579.95 crore to the government, including Tk. 4,085.95 crore to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), while Robi owes Tk. 867.23 crore to the government, including Tk. 197.21 crore to the NBR alone, as per BTRC audit records.
Earlier, on July 4 this year, the telecom regulator, in a bid to realise the dues, had directed all the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators to cut down 30 per cent bandwidth of GP’s total capacity, while for Robi it was 15 per cent. But later, the directive was withdrawn on July 17, considering the inconvenience caused to the subscribers.
As part of the punitive measures, BTRC also suspended issuing the NOC to the operators for importing equipment to run their network.
BTRC data shows that GP and Robi have 7.48 crore and 4.77 crore active connections respectively. About half of these consumers use the Internet.