Norway wants a quick and amicable solution to the problems the country's leading mobile operator Grameenphone is facing in running its operations, said a top diplomat from the Nordic country.
"We have some concerns over the matters related to Grameenphone. We discussed those. We agreed to find a satisfactory solution," said Norwegian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Tore Hattrem after the second political consultation at the state guest house Padma in Dhaka yesterday.
Last year, an audit by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) into Grameenphone's books from its inception in 1997 until 2014 found that the carrier owed Tk 12,579.96 crore to the commission in revenue share, taxes and late fees. The BTRC then directed Grameenphone to pay the amount.
The telecom operator then went to the court. Eventually, the Supreme Court ordered the operator to pay Tk 2,000 crore to the BTRC. On February 23, Grameenphone paid Tk 1,000 crore.
Earlier, the operator said it wanted court protection due to the pressure the BTRC has applied on it and its management. The commission's actions included declining no-objection certificates since July last year, issuing show-cause notice for licence cancellation and denying recycling of number series, it said.
Both sides took note of Bangladesh Supreme Court's recent order on this issue, said Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, who led the Bangladesh side at the consultation.
"Norway sought the full court verdict, so the government will contact the attorney general in this regard."
The Norwegian government has a substantial share in Telenor, and if the Grameenphone issue is settled quickly, the country can make more investment in Bangladesh.
"We want the legal procedures to be settled quickly," Momen added.
Telenor owns 55.8 per cent share in the country's leading mobile phone operator.
Momen appreciated Norway for extending duty-free and quota-free access to Bangladeshi products under the Norwegian generalised system of preferences (GSP) since July 2002 and requested continuation of the preferential trade treatment even after Bangladesh's graduation from the least-developed country bracket in 2024.
Both sides agreed to work on cooperation in the field of skill development in view of Bangladesh's graduation, rapid automation, among others, in the textile sector and disruptive technologies.
Bangladesh requested for continued and intensified support of Norway to ensure safe, dignified and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
Secretary General Hattrem reiterated Norway's support for the Annan Commission's recommendations and the International Court of Justice's provisional measures and called for their full implementation by Myanmar.
Norway, which is currently running for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, vowed to intensify its efforts at the UN to resolve the crisis, if elected, he said.
Two sides agreed to hold two milestone events of Bangladesh, namely the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 50th anniversary of the glorious Independence of Bangladesh in Oslo, Norway early next year.