BTRC rigid on GP’s outstanding Tk 12,579cr

DHAKA, Telecom regulator stood rigid on Grameenphone's outstanding Taka 12,579 crore although the operator raised question on the audit.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Md Jahurul Haque today said the government does not give the commission any authority to spare or leave the outstanding money uncollected.

BTRC will apply all legal authoritative measures to realize the dues, he said during a view exchange meeting with members of Telecom Reporters Network, Bangladesh (TRNB) at BTRC conference room.

Replying to a query on punitive measures, Haque said they could stop issuance of NOC, impose cap on new customer acquisition, temporarily license suspension etc. as per the law.

Referring to a letter issued to Grameenphone, he said the operator has explain its position in 10 days. But, the commission would take the ultimate decision in its meeting following legal aspects.

The BTRC Chairman said Grameenphone can go to the court but the commission is taking all the steps as per the law.

Responding to another question on the audit claim of dues, Jahurul Haque said the total amount would increase day by day due to interest rate and VAT. There is no way of reducing any amount.

The regulator in the first week of the current month (April) sent a notice to Grameenphone asking to pay Taka 12,579.95 crore as dues and the operator was given two weeks to pay the unpaid amount.

Of the total amount, Grameenphone owes Taka 8,494 crore to BTRC while the remaining Taka 4,085 crore to National Board of Revenue (NBR).

BTRC had sought the unpaid amount from the Grameenphone conducting an audit to the operator's books from its inception until June 2015. Back in 2011, the telecom regulator carried out first audit to the books of the operator and unearthed financial discrepancies amounting to Taka 3,034 crore since its inception in 1996 through to March 2011.

Grameenphone, however, disputed the then appointment process of the auditing firm, that's why in October 2015 another firm, Toha Khan Zaman and Co., was hired to scrutinize all the documents of the leading operator since its inception until June 2015.

But, Grameenphone earlier in a statement said it does not admit the demand. Grameenphone considers the demand as unfounded and without any legal basis and has a responsibility to its shareholders to defend the company against all unacceptable claims, it read.

However, the BTRC Chairman termed the Grameenphone's claim as unrealistic and said they have conducted the audit through an independent firm.

During the audit, they (firm) have talked with both the parties and given sufficient time to complete the procedure, he added.

Norwegian company, Telenor has a 55.8 percent share of Grameenphone while Grameen Telecom Corporation owns 34.2 percent, and the remaining 10 percent of the shares belong to retail and institutional investors.

Earlier, the regulator demanded Taka 867.24 crore from the country's second largest operator Robi as missed or under payments over a 19year period, detected after a thorough audit.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)