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Dhaka Tribune

GP, Robi respond to show cause notices

Operators question BTRC’s licence cancelation move

Update : 07 Oct 2019, 12:01 AM

Mobile phone operators Grameenphone and Robi, in response to telecom regulator’s licence cancellation notices, yesterday claimed the regulator did not follow its own law in recovering the audit claim of Tk13, 446 crore.

Through separate letters to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the operators raised the issue, a top commission official told Dhaka Tribune.

Quoting letters of the operators, a senior BTRC official said the letters questioned the effectiveness of section 46 of the Telecom Act 2001 under which the commission had issued the show cause notice, bypassing Section-26 of the act.

According to the Telecom Act Section-26, “All charges, fees, administrative fines and other dues receivable by the Commission may be realized by it as a public demand under the Public Demands Recovery Act, 1913.

The operators also questioned the legality of the telecom regulator’s move to issue license cancellation notice, claiming that the notice was "unfounded" and "invalid".

The official concerned, quoting the letter, further said that as per section 46 of the Telecom Act 2001, the licence cancellation notice could  only come after exhausting the actions under the section 26 of the act.

A senior official of Robi told Dhaka Tribune that the operators did not violate any of the clause relating to licence cancellation, ‘But the regulator seems to have bypassed its own law in a hurried move to cancel our licence.”

The operators in their responses said both the companies had filed cases in late August against the BTRC audit claims before the regulator issued the notice on September 5. 

The operators claimed that as the matter was sub judice, the show cause notice was invalid. 

BTRC officials, however, said the commission had its full right to issue licence cancelation notice.

‘The court order did not bar BTRC from taking any legal action. So I don’t see any problem,’ BTRC Chairman MD Jahurul Haque told Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

"If the operators want negotiation about the matter, the government will look into it. We will proceed as per our law," he said.

Meanwhile, a senior finance ministry official said if the operator wanted to hold negotiation, they must pay a minimum due to initiate the process.

"Without paying a minimum sum the negotiation will not go to the table," he said, unwilling to be named.

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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