BTRC, GP now see solution in talks as the operator pays another Tk 1,000cr | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 20, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:43 PM, May 20, 2020

BTRC, GP now see solution in talks as the operator pays another Tk 1,000cr

Officials of Grameenphone and the telecom regulator will meet soon to work out an amicable solution to the ongoing tussle over an audit claim, according to Md Jahurul Haque, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

Grameenphone's Chief Executive Officer Yasir Azman said they were not on the same page with the regulator over the amount of money claimed in the BTRC audit but there was still much scope to find a way out by sitting at the negotiating table.

Both made the remarks while briefing journalists after the top mobile phone operator deposited another Tk 1,000 crore to the BTRC yesterday as per an order of the apex court.

Earlier on February 23, Grameenphone had handed in Tk 1,000 crore to the regulator following the Appellate Division's order to pay the amount within February 24.

"We want dialogue and thus we can move forward," Azman said.

As the operator has complied with the order of the apex court, the telecom regulator can now sit with them in presence of representatives from the finance division of the government to find a solution, Haque said.

"If there were any flaws in the audit, we can fix them," he said, adding that measures are underway to audit the other operators within a short time.

Earlier, the telecom regulator through two separate audits found that the market leader owed it Tk 12,579.96 crore and Robi, the second-largest operator, Tk 867.23 crore.

The audits that looked into the accounts of Grameenphone and Robi since their inception in 1997 until 2014 claimed that the carriers owed the amounts in revenue shares, taxes and late fees.

On November 24 last year, the Supreme Court ordered Grameenphone to give the BTRC Tk 2,000 crore by February 23 this year as an advance payment against the overall claim.

In January, the operator expressed its intention to the court to pay Tk 575 crore in 12 equal instalments but the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court turned down the plea.

The court asked Robi to pay Tk 138 crore in five instalments against the total claim and the operator will deposit the last instalment of Tk 27.60 crore by May 31.

Replying to a query of the journalists, the BTRC chairman said they were not 'extorting' anyone by dint of regulations.

At a press briefing on November 11 last year, Grameenphone's then CEO Michael Patrick Foley had told reporters that the telecom regulator was forcing the mobile operator to pay an "illegal audit claim of Tk 12,579.96 crore".

"We don't want to be extorted, we don't want to remain under pressure, we don't want to be on the front page of the newspapers globally," Foley had said.

When his attention was drawn to the remarks of Foley, Haque yesterday said: "The BTRC is not an extortionist; we only claim according to the law."

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