Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, after completion of two separate audits, has finalised the government’s claims on two mobile phone operators — Grameenphone and Robi at Tk 12,397.38 crore.
The dues have been accumulated over the years.
The telecom regulator finalised the claim amount based on reports of the two audit firms upon consultations with the mobile phone operators concerned, BTRC officials said.
To realise the claim which is inclusive of late fees, the BTRC based on a commission decision taken at a recently held meeting asked Robi to clear Tk 867.23 crore in government dues within 10 working days.
On the other hand, the BTRC will ask Grameenphone to pay the government dues of Tk 11,530.15 crore.
The outstanding amount to be paid by Robi includes Tk 197.21 crore in late fees.
The dues include Tk 677.76 crore in BTRC dues and the rest Tk 189.47 crore in NBR dues, according to the BTRC letter issued on July 31.
The BTRC claim mentioned, among others, that Robi would have to pay Tk 240.85 crore for underpayment of handset royalty and licence fees to the commission.
The amount to be paid by GP includes Tk 7,443 crore in BTRC dues and Tk 4,085.95 crore in NBR dues.
As per the audit report, the leading mobile phone operator shared Tk 1,039.08 crore less revenue with the telecom regulator since 1997.
The operator’s outstanding payable to the BTRC includes Tk 5,129.16-crore compound interest or compensation for delay payment.
The auditors of GP and Robi checked log books, audited financial statements, reports submitted to the BTRC relating to revenue sharing, subscribers’ information, installation of equipment, inventory records, general ledgers, bank statements, call detail records, agreements and invoices with financial institutions, other access network service operations, infrastructure providers and equipment suppliers during auditing.
The auditors also checked documents relating to SIM procurement, registration, its subsequent utilisation, value-added taxes and income taxes of the mobile phone operators.
Robi in a statement to New Age said, ‘Robi strongly refuses the deeply flawed findings of the so-called audit and associated demand. The demand has no legal basis or rationale.’
‘Under the relevant telecommunication law, an audit to be carried out to get an operator’s procedure and systems audited so as to be satisfied about the compliance of the directions issued by the regulator, and to examine the propriety of the reporting system of the operator, and to give directions on these matters. The so-called audit miserably failed in its material objectives to examine our procedures and systems instead the so-called audit was conducted with a sole objective in mind to make a financial claim against Robi,’ it said.
As a result, the findings do not show true and fair assessment of Robi’s operation over the years, it said.
‘Furthermore, the so-called audit report is replete with duplicate claims that are being disputed in the court of law over the years. Auditors failed to corroborate information obtained from other sources or historical facts,’ Robi said.
‘The so-called findings show that the auditor lacks the awareness of telecom eco-system or historical developments. We, therefore, appealed to the regulator to engage one of the big four international auditors to re-conduct the audit,’ it said.
A GP statement issued following a New Age query on Wednesday said, ‘As a general principle, we do not comment on rumours and speculations. The System Audit by a BTRC appointed auditor is a long pending issue, and we expect that there would be dialogue with the operators before arriving at a conclusion.’
‘We can only comment further on conclusion of any further discussions,’ it said.
It took almost two and a half years to reach a conclusion over Robi’s information system audit and almost three years to conclude the audit of GP.