Unpaid Audit Claims

BTRC moves to stop renewing Grameenphone, Robi’s existing packages

HM Murtuza | Published: 00:00, Aug 08,2019

 
 

File photos show a man walking past a Gameenphone service centre, and another man coming out of a Robi customer care centre in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has initiated a move to stop renewing the existing voice and data packages of Grameenphone and Robi, supplementing its recent measure to halt approval for any new package. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has initiated a move to stop renewing the existing voice and data packages of Grameenphone and Robi, supplementing its recent measure to halt approval for any new package.

The commission took the measures as part of its move to recover Tk 13,446.95 crore in audit claim from the two operators.

To this end, the telecom regulator sent a proposal to the posts and telecommunications ministry for approval, a senior BTRC official told New Age on Wednesday.

Once the proposal is approved by the ministry, the commission would implement the decision, he said.

Officials of the mobile phone operators have raised their concerns stating that such moves would intensify the sufferings of the customers, who have already been impacted by the regulatory move to stop non-objection certificate issuance including NOC for new packages.

At present, GP has approval for running around 40 voice and data packages excluding promotional offers while the other operator, Robi, has approval for operating over 100 packages and offers for the customers.

Usually the BTRC approves packages for one year and then the operators are allowed running such packages for more than one year subject to intimation to the commission.

Apart from halting renewal of the existing packages, the BTRC also proposed that the telecom ministry issue show-cause notices to GP and Robi asking why the licences of the telcos would not be cancelled for breaching telecom act by refraining from paying the regulatory claim.

The BTRC demanded Tk 12,579.95 crore from GP as audit claim this year and Tk 867 crore from Robi on the same ground last year.

The telecom operators have claimed the regulatory claims faulty and refrained from paying the audit claims.

At a recent press briefing, GP said that they would fallow Arbitration Act, 2001 for resolving the disputed audit claim even though the telecom regulator’s denial to follow the act in resolving the dispute.

BTRC chairman Md Jahurul Haque on a number of occasions said that there was no scope in the telecom rules to follow arbitration in resolving the dispute.

Earlier on July 4, the bandwidth consumption of GP and Robi was reduced by 30 per cent and 15 per cent respectively for the recovery of the audit claims but the bandwidth capacity of the operators were restored on July 17 following instruction from the prime minister’s ICT affairs adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy.

After restoration of the bandwidth, the commission on July 22 stopped issuing no objection certificates to the mobile phone operators.

A Robi statement issued by its chief corporate and regulatory officer Shahed Alam said that the current blockade of NOC had devastating impact on the telecom business as well as on the telecom ecosystem.

‘We always believe in solving any dispute by discussion,’ Shahed said, adding, ‘We are also hopeful that the regulator would also consider solving audit dispute with us through discussion.’

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