The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has claimed Tk 128.07 crore in dues from out-of-operation mobile phone operator Citycell following an Appellate Division order delivered in May this year.
A senior BTRC official told New Age on Sunday that the commission had already issued a letter to Citycell asking the operator to pay the dues by August 30 this year.
‘We have issued the letter in line with the AD order that rejected a Citycell plea challenging the amount of dues calculated by a committee led by University of Asia Pacific vice-chancellor Jamilur Reza Choudhury,’ the BTRC official said.
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, according to the report of the committee formed in November, 2016.
Of the dues, Citycell cleared Tk 244.65 crore (as per the court order), while the rest Tk 128.07 crore has remained due, the committee said.
A senior official of Citycell, however, told New Age that the entity was yet to finalise its next course of action regarding the BTRC’s claim.
Another BTRC official said the commission would issue legal notice to Citycell if the operator refrains from paying the dues within the stipulated time.
After serving the legal notice, the commission would move forward to file contempt of court against the entity as the amount was claimed following a court order, the official 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.
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 company’s 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 with 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 the 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.