BTRC to scrutinise overseas VASP activities

HM Murtuza | Published: 21:31, Dec 25,2017

 
 

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has initiated a move to scrutinise activities of all overseas telecom value added service providers including Indian Hungama (Bangladesh) Pvt. Limited with emphasise on the VAS provider’s fund repatriation from the country.
The move of the telecom regulator came following repatriation of around Tk 13 crore by Hungama, a fully owned overseas entity incorporated in Bangladesh in the year 2010, from Bangladesh against its investments of only Tk 2 lakh in the country.
Hungama transferred Tk 6.75 crore for the year ended on June 30, 2015 and Tk 6.07 crore from the year ended on June 30, 2014.
As part of the telecom regulator’s move to dig into the issue of repatriation of money from the country, BTRC recently issued a letter to the mobile phone operators— Teletalk, Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and Citycell— asking the entities to provide information related to Hungama and other solely and partly-owned overseas VAS providers, an official of the commission told New Age on Sunday.
‘Hungama, fully owned and controlled by foreign entrepreneurs, has been providing VAS services— WAP, CRBT, IVR and music Streaming— through different mobile phone operators,’ the BTRC letter said.
‘BTRC noticed that Hungama has been abnormally repatriating dividend abroad,’ the BTRC letter said.
The commission in its letter asked the mobile network operators to provide information in seven days about the services which Hungama provides and the short codes it uses to provide the services, along with similar information on other VAS providers the operators were linked with.
Mobile operators were also asked to inform how much money the operators paid to the VAS provider, for copy of contracts between the MNOs and Hungama, and approval from the regulator to provide the services.
Officials of the commission said the government failed to enact VAS guidelines even after a number of initiatives take by it mainly due to strong opposition from the mobile phone operators.
Absence of guidelines allowed any foreign entity to form solely owned entity in Bangladesh without taking any local partner, resulting in repatriation of funds from the country abnormally, they said.
In August this year, the telecom regulator for the third time drafted fresh guidelines on VAS, which were yet to be finalised.
The BTRC had taken its first initiative to formulate guidelines on providing VAS in 2012 and the second one in 2016.
Intensive customer dissatisfaction over the value added services, forced subscription to different services, charging mobile phone subscribers unusually for VAS services and negligence of acknowledging copyright issues by VAS providers were the reasons, among others, that led to the BTRC move for formation of guidelines on VAS, BTRC officials said.

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