• Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019
  • Last Update : 10:22 pm

SC asks GP to inform payment capacity on audit claim

  • Published at 10:34 pm October 24th, 2019
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Logo of Grameenphone

The GP was asked to inform the court by October 31

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked mobile phone operator Grameenphone to inform it about how much money the operator could pay the government now out of the total audit claim of Tk12,579 crore.

The GP was asked to inform the court by October 31.

A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order while hearing a petition filed by the BTRC that had sought a stay on a High Court order asking an injunction on realizing the dues from the carrier.

“The court asked GP how much it can pay now of the total audit claim. The company have to respond by next Thursday according to the order,” BTRC lawyer Reza-E-Rakib told Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.

He said after the court order the telecom regulator would decide its next move.

On October 17, the HC issued a two-month injunction on the BTRC’s move to realize money.

The telecom regulator, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, recently took a number of regulatory measures against GP.

After running an audit on the Norway -based company GP, the BTRC in 2016 claimed Tk12,579.95 crore from GP in taxes and late fees accumulated over years.

The BTRC ran its first audit back in 2011 on GP, and found financial discrepancies amounting to Tk3,034 crore in the operator's books from its inception in 1996 through to March 2011.

Grameenphone then disputed the appointment process of the auditing firm, and after a court ruling the BTRC in October 2015 appointed another firm, Toha Khan Zaman & Co, to run a new audit on GP’s books from its inception until June 2015.

GP officials claimed that the methodology in the particular issue of the BTRC were questionable. 

In July the telecom regulator temporarily slashed GP’s bandwidth by 30% and also barred the operator from approval to roll out new packages or services, or import network equipment to pressure them into clearing their dues. 

The BTRC also issued show cause notice for license cancellation of the company in September and after reviewing GP’s reply, last week the government decided to appoint administrator in the company.

Meanwhile, the High Court has fixed November 3 to deliver its order on a plea filed by Robi which seeks an injunction on a decision of BTRC to realize dues from the mobile phone operator.

The bench of Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khizir Hayat decided to defer the date for the second time, even though it was scheduled to deliver the order on Thursday.

On July 31, BTRC had issued a letter to Robi demanding payment of Tk867.23 crore.

On August 25, Robi filed a case against the payment demand with a lower court and sought temporary injunction on the BTRC’s letter which was turned down.

Robi then filed an appeal with the High Court seeking temporary injunction on the BTRC’s letter seeking money.

Robi owes Tk 867.23 crore to the government, including Tk 197.21 crore to the National Board of Revenue, according to the ‘disputed’ BTRC audit.