• Friday, Feb 26, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:00 pm

BTRC yet to realise Tk 13,000cr in arrears from mobile operators

  • Published at 01:14 am January 26th, 2021
Logo of BTRC
Logo of BTRC

Posts, telecom and IT minister Mustafa Jabbar yesterday raised the issue of mobile operators not paying their dues during a parliamentary session

The mobile network operators still owe the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) a grand total of Tk 13,000 crore.

From the amount owed, Grameenphone and Robi are yet to pay Tk 10,579.4 crore and Tk 729.23 crore respectively, which stems from the highly-publicised government audit claims.

State-run Teletalk's arrears of Tk 1,575.13 crore is for 3G spectrum allocation, while the now-defunct Citycell's due of Tk 128.6 crore was set by the High Court.

The remaining operator, Bangalink, has not been audited yet.

The BTRC in 2016 claimed Tk 12,579.95 crore from Grameenphone and Tk 867.23 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 Tk 315 crore, and Tk 6,385 crore from Grameenphone.

According to sources, Grameenphone has paid Tk 2,000 crore, while Robi paid Tk 138 crore until now.

Citycell has owed to the government of Tk 477.51 crore since long, as spectrum and license renewal fees and other charges. On October 16, 2016, the operator, which was the country's oldest mobile operator, had its operations and spectrum allocation shut down by the BTRC.

The operators, however, have a dispute with the government about the original audit claims.

Both Grameenphone and Robi have filed separate cases seeking a settlement, describing the BTRC's claim for collection of audit objections as "unreasonable and flawed".

The cases seek permanent injunctions against the telecom regulator’s audit claims, which were lodged on August 25 and 26 respectively in 2019.

A show-cause notice was issued on September 5 the same year to all the operators, asking them to explain within 30 days why their licences would not be cancelled for not paying the dues.

Posts, telecom and IT minister Mustafa Jabbar yesterday raised the issue of mobile operators not paying their dues during a parliamentary session.

There was no response when a letter was sent to the finance ministry asking for Teletalk's money, he said.

Both Grameenphone and Robi declined to comment on this issue.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) also refrained from commenting on the matter.

"As we are a state-run network operator, we asked for the conversion of our equities regarding payment for 3G spectrum allocation. There is no due amount, maybe there is some misunderstanding because we have been operating 3G since 2012 on an experimental basis," said Mohammad Shahabuddin, managing director of Teletalk.

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