HC rejects telecoms regulator's claim | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 14, 2012

Additional Charges on GP

HC rejects telecoms regulator's claim

Clouds clear over licence renewal


Grameenphone yesterday won a legal battle against the telecom regulator over additional spectrum fees, clearing the way for the mobile operator's licence renewal.
The High Court declared illegal a part of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission's notice that demanded additional money for the radio frequency it had sold to Grameenphone four years ago.
The bench of Justice Farid Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif gave the judgment yesterday.
The verdict means GP, the country's largest mobile phone operator, will not need to pay an additional Tk 236.8 crore for radio frequency, which it bought for 18 years in 2008, said Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury, a lawyer for GP.
However, the court upheld BTRC's decision that GP will have to pay the rest of the fees to the telecom regulator without excluding value added tax (VAT), said Barrister Khandaker Raza-E-Raquib, a lawyer for the BTRC.
"Grameenphone's licence will be renewed after it pays its dues. We will hold a meeting after getting a certified copy of the verdict,” Zia Ahmed, BTRC chairman, told The Daily Star.
For licence renewal, Grameenphone will have to pay Tk 238 crore to BTRC immediately, he told reporters at his office.
GP's licence expired in November last year. It has been operating under a special order since.
In a notice in October last year, BTRC asked GP to pay Tk 3,624 crore in licence renewal and spectrum assignment fees.
The amount included an additional Tk 236.8 crore in spectrum assignment fee -- a demand the court has declared illegal, added Mehedi.
The notice had also asked GP to pay all the money without excluding the amount it pays in VAT.
Currently, telecom operators pay charges to BTRC after deducting 15 percent they pay to the National Board of Revenue in VAT.
Challenging both the demands, GP filed a writ petition on October 23 the same year.
Meanwhile, GP in a statement said after yesterday's judgment it will be allowed to get 15 percent rebate after paying the same amount of VAT separately to NBR.
The verdict has also paved the way of awarding the renewed 2G licence and spectrum, it added.
GP has now 22 megahertz spectrum. Of the frequency, 7.4 megahertz was bought in 2008. The rest was purchased in 1996 for 15 years, which expired on November 10 last year.
Its licence expired on the same day, leading to the BTRC to demand licence renewal and new spectrum fees.
While demanding fees for new spectrum fees, BTRC had demanded additional charges for the 7.4 megahertz spectrum bought in 2008, said the GP lawyer.
As of December last year, GP has 3.64 crore active subscribers of the country's 8.54 crore mobile phone users.
The shares of the lone listed company in the telecom category on Dhaka Stock Exchange were traded at Tk 153.5 yesterday, down by 0.58 percent from the previous day.

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