The Appellate Division on Tuesday asked out-of-operation mobile phone operator Citycelll to clear Tk 128.07 crore in dues to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division led by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order, rejecting a Citycell plea challenging the amount of dues calculated by a committee led by University of Asia Pacific vice-chancellor Jamilur Reza Choudhury.
The committee, formed by the Appellate Division to bring an end to a dispute between the BTRC and Citycell over dues, in its report submitted on July 27, 2017 stated that the total dues of Citycell was Tk 372.72 crore as of September, 2016 whereas the telecom regulator was claiming Tk 477 crore from the operator.
Of the dues, Tk 291.25 crore was payable for spectrum renewal fees, Tk 13.25 crore for annual licence charge, Tk 37.11 crore for annual spectrum fee, Tk 22.47 crore for revenue sharing and Tk 8.63 crore for social obligation fund, the report of the committee formed in November, 2016 said.
Of the dues, Citycell cleared Tk 244.65 crore (as per the court order), while the rest Tk 128,06,98,444 has been remaining due.
BTRC’s legal counsel barrister Sayed Mahsib Hossain told New Age, ‘The Appellate Division on Tuesday by an order rejected the modification application that was submitted earlier by Citycell disputing the finding of the committee led by professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury.’
The order came after the Appellate Division finished hearing all the counsels on Monday this year, he said.
‘By dint of this order, Citycell will have to pay the BTRC the amount that has been calculated by the Jamilur Reza Choudhury-led committee,’ he said.
The operation of Citycell, the lone CDMA operator in the country, has remained suspended since October, 2016 amid regulatory intervention due to the dispute over dues.
On April 26, 2017, the BTRC in a letter asked Citycell as to why legal action would not be taken against the operator for non-payment of fresh dues to the commission for the period of October, 2016 to March, 2017.
The telecom regulator in the notice also asked the operator to explain in thirty days why legal action would not be taken against the operator on the same ground.
Citycell in the reply issued by its chief executive officer Mehboob Chowdhury said that the operator had already paid Tk 476.27 crore as spectrum charge, licence fee, revenue sharing and social obligation fund to the telecom regulator for the operator’s dues till the third quarter of 2016.
The operator, however, in its letter also mentioned that the mobile phone
companys dues to the BTRC was Tk 346.99 crore for the period, meaning that an additional Tk 129.27 crore had already been paid by the operator to the telecom regulator.
Dissatisfied by the Citycell reply, the BTRC on July 24, 2017, decided to cancel the licence of Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (Citycell is its brand name) for non-payment of fresh dues for the period from October, 2016 to March, 2017.
The Appellate Division, however, on July 25, 2017 asked the telecom regulator to restore licence of the mobile phone operator following a petition filed by the operator.
According to the company’s web site, Singapore’s SingTel owns 44.54 per cent of Citycell’s shares while 37.95 per cent belongs to Pacific Motors Ltd and Far East Telecom owns 17.51 per cent of the company’s stake.
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