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Dhaka Tribune

GP, Robi term BTRC licence cancellation notice unfounded, invalid

The claims come with just one day left for the two operators to respond to the notice

Update : 05 Oct 2019, 11:23 PM

Mobile phone companies Grameenphone and Robi have questioned the legality of the telecom regulator’s move to issue license cancellation notice claiming the notice is "unfounded" and "invalid."

The claims come with just one day left for the two operators to respond to the notice. 

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on September 5 issued a show cause notice to operators, asking why their licences would not be revoked because of the companies’ failure to pay Tk 13,446 crore audit claims.

The operators, however, claimed that both the companies filed cases in late August challenging the audit claims before the notice was served.

"Robi has filed a suit challenging the flawed audit findings. Therefore, audit is a subjudice matter and any show cause is invalid. Hence, we can't provide further comment on this other than what we have already expressed vehemently, questioning the thinking and the rationale used to arrive at audit findings which are as evidenced, replete with inconsistency and irrationality," said Robi Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer Shahed Alam in an written statement yesterday.

"We have urged the Commission to resolve dispute amicably or agree to participate in mediation or ADR as laid down in our civil procedure," he said.

Asked about the ongoing dispute with the two mobile companies, Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar told Dhaka Tribune that the government would take its lawful action if the operators failed to comply with the rules.

"The government and the BTRC will follow the law of the country. Although the matter is pending with the court, there is no court order barring BTRC from taking any action. If the operators request for waiver of late fees and other amount, it can be considered as there are such precedents. But we will hold our ground in realizing the money," he said.     

GP in a statement said:  ‘"We are grateful to the Hon’ble Minister of Finance, Hon’ble Minister of Post and Telecommunications and the Chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR) for their assistance in the progress to the process of the disputed and unfounded audit claim by BTRC. The unfounded Show-Cause notice by BTRC to cancel our licence has not been withdrawn and hence we have provided our responses."

A high-profile meeting last week, presided over by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, discussed the possibility of waiver of Tk6,746cr in late fees, fines to end the stalemate.

On September 18, the finance minister in a meeting with the two mobile operators announced that the longstanding dispute about the audit claim would be resolved within three weeks.

After an audit of the two mobile phone operators, the BTRC in 2016 claimed Tk12,579.95 crore from GP, leader in the country’s telecom service sector, and Tk867.23 crore from Robi, the second largest operator, in taxes and late fees accumulated over several years.

Of the total, the principal audit claim from Robi was around Tk315 crore, and  around Tk6,385 crore from Grameenphone.

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