GP offers Tk 100cr to continue talks, BTRC rejects

Staff Correspondent | Published: 22:10, Feb 19,2020


File photos show a signboard of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission installed outside its office (left) and the Grameenphone headquarters in Dhaka. The BTRC on Wednesday declined to receive Tk 100 crore offered by Grameenphone as initial payment out of Tk 12,579.95 crore in BTRC audit claim. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Wednesday declined to receive Tk 100 crore offered by Grameenphone as initial payment out of Tk 12,579.95 crore in BTRC audit claim.

GP officials said that that the operator proposed paying the amount as part of its intention to reinstate discussion to settle the dispute.

The proposal of the leading mobile phone operator came just five days before the expiry of the three-month timeframe set by the Appellate Division for the payment of Tk 2,000 crore.

On November 24 last year, the AD asked GP to pay Tk 2,000 crore in

three months, ending on February 23.

The operator on January 26 filed a review petition with the Appellate Division to allow it to pay Tk 575 crore in twelve monthly instalments. The review petition is due for court hearing.

Speaking about GP’s proposal to pay Tk 100 crore to the BTRC, GP regulatory affairs head Hossain Sadat at a press briefing on the day said, ‘The amount, we proposed to pay the BTRC, was in addition to the amount that the court asked GP to pay or the amount that GP requested the court to revise by the way of submitting review petition.’

As court would only deal with whether the injunction on the regulatory measures for the recovery of the disputed audit claim would remain valid or not, GP wants to foster settlement of the dispute through discussion and that’s why GP proposed the telecom regulator to accept Tk 100 crore as the initial payment that would be adjustable when it would be possible to reach a settlement, Sadat said.

GP was proposed by the government to pay a lump sum amount to begin the dialogue and that’s why the amount was proposed to reinstate the discussion that has remained halted, he said.

The commission, however, denied accepting the money, he said.

Asked, BTRC chairman Md Jahurul Haque told New Age that the commission was not in a position to receive any amount less than Tk 2,000 crore as the court asked the operator to pay the amount.

‘We will comply with the court order even if the commission is asked to waive the entire amount,’ he said.

‘The operator has now come with a proposal that has lost relevance as they filed a writ petition with court,’ the BTRC chairman said, adding that the operator refrained from paying any amount when they were proposed to do so to start discussion several months ago.

‘Now, the commission has nothing to do about it other than following court order,’ Jahurul said.

‘Unless the court order is followed by GP, the commission would take its next course of action to realise the audit claim,’ he said.

Speaking about GP’s next course of action, Hossain Sadat said that the operator would face regulatory affairs issues and court issues in different ways.

The operator would take its next course of action depending on court order regarding the review petition, he said.

On November 24 last year, the Appellate Division directed Grameenphone to pay Tk 2,000 crore of the BTRC audit claim of Tk 12,579.75 crore in three months.

On October 17 last year, the High Court issued injunction on the government, barring any regulatory measure to recover the audit claim.

Following the court order,  the telecom regulator filed an appeal with the Appellate Division against the HC order. The AD asked GP to pay Tk 2,000 crore in three months.

Before the court order, the BTRC initiated a move to appoint administrator to GP in addition to NOC issuance suspension.

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