Court will decide, he says
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday categorically said that no administrators would be appointed at Grameenphone (GP) and Robi for their unwillingness to clear disputed dues.
Rather, the minister said the court would now handle the dispute over non-payment of the outstanding amount Tk13,476 crore the two private telecom operators owed the government.
Kamal said he had tried to mediate between GP, Robi and Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and National Board of Revenue (NBR), and to resolve the dispute through out of the court settlement.
“I did not receive the expected cooperation from the two mobile phone operators,” lamented Kamal.
“Now, the court is the only hope for us. They (GP, Robi) also want it,” Mustafa Kamal told reporters at a briefing after the meeting of the cabinet committee of government purchase (CCGP) and economic affairs (CCEA) at the secretariat last evening.
Responding to a question on the BTRC’s move to appoint administrators for GP and Robi, Mustafa Kamal said: “Who is appointing administrator? It is now pending with the court. I cannot tell more.”
Mustafa Jabbar, post and telecommunication minister, recently told reporters that he had directed BTRC to take preparation to appoint administrators and find suitable people for the posts.
Expressing his frustration, Kamal said he held a series of meetings with all the four stakeholders (GP, Robi and BTRC and NBR) to resolve the dispute for the sake of the business and investment and maintained the image of the government but all of the efforts went in vein.
“I had frantic efforts to mediate the dispute. Unfortunately, it did not work. I had tried. It is my consolation,” he responded in reply to a question over the outcome of his initiatives for arbitration.
The finance minister said he had asked the GP and Robi management to pay a minimum sum to the government exchequer as ‘a token of goodwill’ but they had declined to pay, citing their respective board’s reservations.
Telecom operators GP and Robi together owed Tk 13,447 crore the government, according to audit assessment, which telecom operators disputed.
The amount was determined through two separate audits by the BTRC in 2016.