Robi yesterday deposited Tk 27.60 crore as their first payment of five instalments for the telecom regulator’s claim against audit findings.
Following this payment, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has already withdrawn all restrictions against the mobile carrier just after they made the payment, said Md Jahurul Haque, chairman of the commission.
“According to the court order, we have already withdrawn all the restrictions against them and started to issue no objection certificates to them, which will go on until February 29,” Haque told The Daily Star yesterday evening.
Following a High Court order, the second largest mobile operator has paid their first instalment to pave the way for it to avoid a raft of restrictions and thus, rejuvenate business growth.
On January 5, the HC issued the order to Robi to pay Tk 138 crore in five instalments against the BTRC’s claim of Tk 867.23 crore and to pay the first instalment by January 31. They will have to pay every instalment by the last date of each month.
From the beginning, Robi called the claim “unfounded”, saying the commission did not properly follow audit rules.
Yesterday, Robi said that honouring the ad-interim ruling of the HC, it has made the deposit of the first instalment to the BTRC.
“Considering that our customers are suffering, we have decided to make this deposit well ahead of the stipulated time for making the first instalment,” Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer at Robi, told The Daily Star in a statement yesterday.
Robi said it believes that this shows it is a compliant company that operates following the rules and regulations of the country.
However, the operator still claims that the audit report is devoid of rationality. Therefore, it is determined to exhaust the legal recourse available and hope that it will be able to reclaim the deposit it is making in due course, Alam said.
“Furthermore, our shareholders may independently explore other legal options available to them to seek justice in this regard. While we honour the High Court ruling, it is undeniable that the manner in which the entire process has been handled has severely eroded our shareholders’ confidence,” the statement also mentioned.
In order to realise the BTRC’s claimed amount, the regulator had put pressure on Robi by cutting 15 percent of their internet bandwidth usage in the first week of July, and stopping issuance of any approval on packages and services and network equipment import.
Later, the BTRC also served them notices, threatening to revoke their licences.
Robi had filed an appeal with a lower court in Dhaka seeking an injunction against the realisation of the money by the BTRC, but the court turned down the petition. In September, it filed a writ with the HC, challenging the BTRC move.
Robi has about 4.87 crore active connections as of November 2019.
Following an audit in 2016, the commission claimed the money from Robi accumulated for unpaid revenue shares, taxes and late fees since its inception in 1997 to December 2014.
Earlier on November 24, the Supreme Court asked Grameenphone to pay Tk 2,000 crore out of the Tk 12,579 crore claimed by the commission.
However, the operator was yet to make their decision on paying the sum.