The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has asked existing value added service providers, which became registered with the commission later under the new guidelines, to share revenue with the government and with the social obligation fund (SOF) from the first year of receiving registration.
The telecom recently regulator issued a notice in this regard as many of the existing telecommunication value added service (TVAS) providers, which were in operation even before the issuance of new guidelines on May 31, 2018, have refrained from depositing money to the SOF and sharing revenue with the government.
Such TVAS providers have refrained from sharing their revenues with the government and with the SOF as per Clause 19.1 of the Regulatory Guidelines for Issuance of Registration Certificate for Providing Telecommunication Value Added Services (TVAS) in Bangladesh.
The clause does not specify whether the VAS operators, who would get TVAS registration and were in operation even before the issuance of the guidelines, are required to share revenue with the government immediately after receiving fresh registration.
Instead, the guidelines exempted the TVAS providers from sharing revenue with the government as well as with the SOF in the first and second years of getting registration.
The rate of TVAS operators’ revenue sharing with the government and with the SOF was set at 5.5 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.
A senior official of the commission told New Age on Tuesday that the intention behind providing the exemption was to give some breathing space to the newly incorporated TVAS operators.
The exemption was not meant for the VAS operators which had been providing services for a long time and had launched their services before the issuance of the guidelines, the official said.
That is why the commission issued a notice in this regard on March 12, 2021 asking only those entities to clear the overdue amount of revenue sharing with the government as well as with the SOF within 15 days of issuance of the notice.
The BTRC notice also warned that failure to comply with the notice would be met with punitive measures under the guidelines as well as under The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Act 2001.
An official of the TVAS operator mentioned that they had refrained from sharing revenue with the SOF as the guideline specifically mentioned that revenue sharing will start from the third year of getting registered with the BTRC.
It would be a huge burden on the TVAS operators to arrange such a huge amount of funds in such a short period of time, he said.
Firstly, it was the commission’s mistake as the issue was clearly stated in the guidelines, he said.
Secondly, the commission should allow more time to such TVAS operators even if the commission compels the operators to pay the outstanding amounts of revenue sharing for the first two years, the official said.
The commission has so far granted registration to 183 entities to run TVAS under its guidelines.
Before the issuance of the guidelines, the commission had no rules and regulations in place to regulate the TVAS operators.
The guidelines were formulated with a view to bringing discipline in the overcrowded value-added service business and bringing the service providers under a regulatory framework.
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