Contradicts with regulator’s estimation of Tk 318cr
Mobile phone operator Citycell paid Tk 130 crore in dues to telecom regulator on Wednesday contradicting with the regulator’s estimation of Tk 318 crore the company needed to pay as the first instalment to avoid closure.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission chairman Shahjahan Mahmood confirmed the receipt of the money but said the regulator was yet to decide about the next course of action as the operator did not pay the instalment in full.
‘The Appellate Division earlier directed Citycell to pay in first instalment two-third of Tk 477 crore by today [October 19]. They paid a portion of the money and legally we can take any action against it. We are yet to take any decision about Citycell’s suspension,’ he told New Age.
A five-judge AD bench headed by Chief Justice SK Sinha in August ordered Citycell to pay its dues to telecom regulator in three months in two instalments, the first within four weeks after the certified copy of the order was out.
The certified copy of the High Court’s Appellate Division order was issued on September 21 where it said that the BTRC claim was Tk 477 crore and the Citycell have to pay the admitted amount to the regulator.
BTRC officials said, given that the Citycell has Tk 477.51 crore in dues, the company has to pay at least Tk 318 crore in first instalment and Tk 159 crore in the second instalment.
Citycell officials, however, said that there is still dispute over what should be the total dues and a legal interpretation is needed for that.
Citycell chief executive Mehboob Chowdhury told New Age that the paid amount of Tk 130 crore was the first instalment as per their estimation in line with the AD order which referred to ‘admitted amount’.
He said that they would pay the next instalment as per the AD order.
BTRC on August 1 asked Citycell subscribers to find alternative by August 16 saying that the regulator could suspend its operation any time over non-payment of dues.
On August 17, the BTRC issued a notice to Citycell asking it to explain by 30 days why its operating licence would not be cancelled for failure to pay Tk 477.68 crore dues.
As the first mobile telecom operator in Bangladesh, Citycell started its operation in 1993 using CDMA technology.
The operator intended to move to the widely-used GSM technology, but the BTRC rejected its proposal on the ground that the company had a huge amount of dues.
According to the company’s website, Singapore’s SingTel owns 44.54 per cent shares of Citycell while 37.95 per cent belongs to Pacific Motors Ltd and Far East Telecom owns 17.51 per cent stake in the company.
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