Grameenphone says BTRC’s NOC suspension over audit claim unacceptable

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Jul 26,2019 | Updated: 22:34, Jul 25,2019


Grameenphone chief executive officer Michael Foley on Thursday said that the suspension of no-objection certificate issuance by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to the mobile operator would hit the country’s economy and deprive customers of quality service.

‘The BTRC’s move is unprecedented and unacceptable,’ Foley said at a press briefing held at the InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka.

The BTRC on Monday halted issuance of any sort of NOCs to two mobile phone operators — Grameenphone and Robi — as part of its efforts to realise Tk 12,579.95 crore from GP and Tk 867 crore from Robi in audit claims.

Foley said Grameenphone would follow Arbitration Act, 2001 in resolving the disputed Tk 12,579.95 crore audit claim made by the BTRC in April this year.

He believes that the arbitration would be the best way of resolving the dispute and it would also be legally binding for both the parties as well.

Raising question about the BTRC’s audit claim, Foley said that the telecom regulator in its claim included NBR taxes worth Tk 4,085.94 crore but it should not be a matter of the BTRC.

Such type of measures for recovery of audit claim would affect Bangladesh’s image as investment destination, said Foley.

He, however, mentioned that the company still saw fantastic future of GP in the country and the regulatory claim would not result in GP’s departure from the country.

Speaking about the BTRC’s reluctance to follow the Arbitration Act, he said that it seemed to him that the commission did not want analysis of the audit report by any independent authority.

Acting GP chief corporate affairs officer Hossain Sadat said that 30 days had already passed since the operator’s official proposal for following Arbitration Act to the BTRC for resolving audit dispute.

As the commission refrained from giving any reply to the proposal, GP would now follow due procedure of the arbitration act in this connection, he said.

Asked what would be the next GP move in this regard, he said that they had the scope for urging the commission through court to follow the Arbitration Act for resolving the issue.

Raising question about the BTRC’s audit claim, Hossain said that the operator in September last year responded to the BTRC query on the draft audit report in August.

The BTRC, however, in its final audit claim mentioned that the commission only considered the observations made by the operator till February, 2018, he said.

On July 4 this year, BTRC reduced internet bandwidth capacity of GP by 30 per cent and Robi by 15 per cent over the unpaid audit claim but restored the capacity on July 17 considering the sufferings of the customers.

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