GP offers Tk 200cr in deposit, BTRC seeks half of audit claim

AD to give order Monday

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Nov 15,2019


Grameenphone at a hearing at the Appellate Division on Thursday offered to pay Tk 200 crore out of the Tk 12,579.95 crore in audit claim to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, while the BTRC demanded payment of half of the dues.

A six-member bench chaired by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain set Monday for setting the amount of the payment.

The Appellate Division will Monday also give its decision on whether it would vacate the High Court’s two-month stay on realisation of the dues by the BTRC.

The bench also asked GP and BTRC to come to the court on Monday after thinking over the amount.

At the outset of the hearing, the Appellate Division asked GP to inform how much money it could pay.

GP must deposit in the BTRC some amount of the dues, said the court, adding that GP earned Tk 3,000 crore a year.

The court said that GP could get return of payment of any additional amount if it was proved that GP had paid extra amount.

Lawyers AM Aminuddin and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, also a ruling party lawmaker, appearing for the GP submitted that the telecom company gave some conditions at a meeting with the finance ministry and the posts and telecommunications ministry on October 3.

‘If they agree to accept GP’s conditions, we will pay Tk 200 crore,’ Taposh submitted.

Appearing for the BTRC, attorney general Mahbubey Alam prayed for vacating the High Court’s order that had stayed realisation of Tk 12,579.95 crore from Grameenphone.

BTRC’s another lawyer Khandaker Reza-E-Raquib later told reporters that the telecom regulatory authority would negotiate with GP over the matter only after it would agree to pay half of the audit claim.

GP in a statement sent to New Age said, ‘We expect that the BTRC will immediately allow it to take the necessary actions to process and import equipment for network expansion and to offer products and services to customers.’

‘We reaffirm our commitment that the way to resolve the audit issue is to continue with the jointly committed transparent process towards an amicable resolution with the prime minister’s ICT adviser and relevant members of the government.

‘Our position before court was that we have been and are still willing to make an adjustable deposit as a part of the amicable resolution process in light of the meeting held on October 3, 2019.’

The BTRC moved the Appellate Division after the HC on October 17 issued the two-month  injunction on realisation of the dues from GP following a petition filed by GP challenging the order issued by the first joint district judge’s court on August 28.

The first joint district judge’s court in its order had refused to grant the injunction on the realisation of the money.

On April 2, the BTRC served a demand notice on GP after an audit firm, a joint venture of Toha Khan Zaman and Co Chartered Accountants, calculated that GP had not paid Tk 12,579.95 crore to the BTRC and the National Board of Revenue since 1997.

The HC bench had also accepted GP’s appeal for holding a hearing on November 5.

On October 17, the telecom ministry approved a BTRC proposal to appoint administrators to GP and another mobile company, Robi, over the non-payment of audit claims.

The BTRC had earlier directed Robi to pay Tk 867.24 crore in audit claim.

The BTRC on September 5 this year issued the show-cause notices to GP and Robi asking them why their licences would not be cancelled for non-payment of the audit claims.

A few days before issuance of the show-cause notices, both the companies filed lawsuits with the district court challenging the legality of the regulator’s moves to recover Tk 13,446 crore in audit claims.

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