The posts and telecommunications ministry has allowed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to seek explanation from two mobile phone operators — Grameenphone and Robi — why their licences would not be revoked for not paying audit claims.
The ministry gave the consent following a proposal from the telecom regulator as the mobile phone operators have refrained from paying audit claims made by the BTRC based on separate audits, ministry sources said.
A BTRC official admitted the issue of receiving approval from the ministry adding that the commission was processing the show-cause letters which would be served on GP and Robi.
The mobile operators have 76 per cent of the country’s mobile phone subscribers under their belt.
The notices would be served under the section 46 of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act 2001 that allows the commission to suspend and cancel licences on logical ground.
Violation of licensing conditions or regulations of the commission could result in such regulatory measures.
Before the cancellation or suspension of licence of any telecom licensee, the commission has the legal binding to service a 30-day notice seeking explanation from the licensee asking why its licence would not be cancelled for violation of licensing conditions and regulatory guidelines.
In line with the telecom act, the BTRC official said, the commission would now service show-cause notices on the mobile phone operators within a few days as part of its move to realise Tk 13,446.95 crore in audit claims from the operators.
The commission would take the next course of action based on responses from the mobile phone operators, he said.
In July, 2018, the commission issued a demand letter to Robi claiming Tk 867 crore in dues based on an audit report on the entity’s information system.
On April 2 this year, the commission issued to GP a Tk 12,579.95-crore demand letter based on an audit.
Although the operators were asked to pay the money in two weeks, they are yet to clear the money raising question over the audit findings.
The operators also called on the telecom regulator to solve the ‘disputed audit claim’ under the Arbitration Act 2001.
The commission, however, rejected the plea made by the operators, saying there was no such scope in the telecom act.
The mobile phone operators have been facing regulatory measures for non-payment of the audit claims.
On July 4 this year, the BTRC reduced internet bandwidth capacity of GP by 30 per cent and Robi by 15 per cent over the unpaid audit claims but restored the capacity on July 17 considering the sufferings of the customers.
Later on June 22, the commission halted issuance of no objection certificate to the mobile operators.
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