Row over dues: BTRC taking hard line against GP, Robi

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Staff Reporter:

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is going to stop issuing fresh no objection certificates (NOCs) to Grameenphone and Robi over the row about dues to the government.

“We’ll soon stop issuing NOCs to them (GP and Robi). Let’s see what happens next,” BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque told a press conference at his office on Wednesday afternoon.

He also said there is a provision to appoint an administrator to realise the dues from the two mobile phone operators.

GP has Tk 12,579.95 crore in dues to the government, including Tk 4,085.95 crore to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), while Robi has Tk 867.23 crore to the government, including Tk 197.21 crore to the NBR alone, as per a BTRC audit.

Terming the audit claims disputed, both the mobile phone operators were urging BTRC to settle the issue through arbitrations.

However, the BTRC says there is no scope of any arbitration as per the existing law over realising dues from them.

On July 4, the telecom regulator reduced 30 percent bandwidth capacity of Grameenphone while 15 percent of Robi as they failed to pay their dues to the government.

The BTRC chairman said the audit was conducted as per the directives of the High Court. “Letters were sent to them several times seeking dues and their bandwidth capacity was also reduced.”

He, however, said Prime Minister’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy at a meeting on Tuesday asked for cancelling the decision to reduce the bandwidth capacity as it ultimately affects customers. “The decision will be lifted by tonight (Wednesday night).”

Asked whether the decision was a wrong one, he replied in the negative, saying, “We’re going to take even bigger steps.”

Once the telecom regulator stops the issuance of NOCs, Grameenphone and Robi will not be able to import telecom equipment and instruments, and install base transceiver stations, said BTRC Managing Director (Spectrum) AKM Shahiduzzaman.

They will also not be able to offer new packages, he said.unb

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