SC gives another chance to Citycell

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court today gave another chance to Citycell to keep running its operations as the apex court asked BTRC to reinstate its spectrum on condition of paying Taka 100 crore by November 19.

"A four-member Appellate Division panel headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha passed the order while disposing of a petition filed by Citycell," a court official said.

According to the order, if Citycell fails to comply with the order, Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) can again cancel the spectrum.

Earlier on October 20, BTRC suspended the spectrum of Citycell for failure of paying the outstanding amount virtually shutting down the service of the country's first mobile phone operator.

Citycell has owed to the government of Taka 477.51 crore since long as spectrum and license renewal fees and other charges.

In line with the apex court decision the operator was required to pay Taka 318 crore to the BTRC by October 19 but the time limit was later extended for one more month or the remaining one third outstanding amount.

"But, as the operator didn't fulfill the first part of the judgment of Appellate Division, there is no option for another part of the judgment," State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim said on that day.

BTRC started the process to shutdown Citycell in August when it asked operator's subscribers to choose alternative services by August 16. Later, the regulator extended time to August 23.

But, the operator again failed to comply with the regulator's directives. Citycell went to the court finally.

According to BTRC, the Citycell didn't pay the second and third installments, in combine Taka 229 crore, for 8.82 megahertz spectrum since spectrum renewal in 2012, which has breached the licensing terms.

Besides, it has owed of annual spectrum fees (from the year 2013 to 2016) Taka 27.14 crore, revenue sharing (2014 to 2016) Taka 27.84 crore, social obligatory fund (2011 to 2016) Taka 8.92 crore, VAT Taka 39.92 crore and late fee of Taka 135 crore.

Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited under the brand name "Citycell" obtained license in 1989 where SingTel Asia Pacific Investment Limited has 45 percent share while Far East Telecom Limited owns 23.57 percent share and remaining 31.43 percent share hold by Pacific Motor Limited.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)