Sigve Breakke, chairman of the Grameenphone board and executive vice-president of Telenor, Sunday met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy.
Breakke told the Dhaka Tribune that the meeting took place and said: “We discussed Bangladesh’s telecommunications regulatory framework.”
The GP board chief also met with information minister, Hasanul Haque Inu, telecommunication minister Advocate Shahara Khatun, one of the PM’s advisors and the telecom secretary. Breakke was also scheduled to meet with the finance minister in the evening, but the meeting did not take place.
Sources said the meetings all addressed issues related to the upcoming 3G auction on July 31, for which the application deadline is on June 12.
Earlier, chief executives of Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi requested the finance minister, AMA Muhith, to delay the auction until their tax related disputes are resolved. In a joint letter, they said unsettled issues may impede their investments.
Telenor, VimpelCom and Axiata are the parent companies of Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi, respectively, that account for 90% of the total mobile telephony market in Bangladesh.
Norwegian Trade and Industry minister Trond Giske also visited Bangladesh on April 7 regarding the same issue. The visit was part of a flurry of activity that accompanied the reassurances sought by country’s largest mobile operator from the government that GP would not be mentioned in the full report of the Grameen Bank Commission. Breakke himself visited the country over six times in the last two months to address the issue.
Giske also sent a letter to Commerce Minister GM Qader, writing: “I trust the government of Bangladesh will do its best to resolve this matter in a fair and open manner, so that Telenor’s and GP’s significant long-term investments are not harmed.”
He pointed out that GP, majority owned by Norwegian state-owned Telenor, would like to expand operations in Bangladesh and participate in the auction. “Unfortunately, at the moment Telenor finds that the framework conditions for investing in Bangladesh are highly uncertain due to the interim report from the Grameen Bank commission.”
The commission’s report alleges that Tk96bn was laundered using GP in the past 15 years, it points at the telecom’s licence not being issued in the proper way, and how attempts to set matters right led to further violations of the law.