GP alleges BTRC disobeying court order

Claims regulator trying to realise ‘illegal’ audit claim thru intimidation

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Nov 12,2019 | Updated: 15:26, Nov 12,2019


Mobile phone operator Grameenphone on Monday alleged the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission disobeyed a court order that barred the commission from taking any measure against the operator for recovering an audit claim.

The mobile phone operator made the allegation at a discussion with reporters in a city hotel on Money.

GP chief executive officer Michael Patrick Foley, deputy chief executive officer Yasir Azman and regulatory affairs head Hossain Sadat were present on the occasion.

‘The BTRC failed to obey the injunction given by the High Court,’ Foley alleged.

On October 17, the High Court issued an injunction for two months on realisation of Tk 12,579.95 crore in audit claim from GP by the BTRC.

The Appellate Division is now hearing the issue as the BTRC has challenged the HC order.

The telecom regulator’s move to appoint administrators to GP and Robi to recover audit claims had prompted the mobile phone operator to go to court.

‘Since the issuance of injunction on any measure to recover audit claim from GP, the telecom regulator is yet to issue any no-objection certificate to GP,’ Foley said adding, ‘The operator failed to execute its investments plan involving Tk 480 crore for network expansion in the current year.’

He said, ‘The audit is illegal and the BTRC is trying to collect money that does not belong to them.’

‘The BTRC is wrongfully trying to force us to pay an illegal audit claim by claiming that it is public money.’

Mentioning that the principal audit claim of around Tk 2,300 crore as incorrect,  Foley said the commission was trying to get money through intimidation.

He also said that they fully supported the move taken by the prime minister’s ICT affairs adviser, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, last month and the operator was ready to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government to accept report of the proposed independent committee along with paying adjustable amount.

‘We want an amicable, transparent and independent assessment and resolution to the issue but, we do not want to be extorted under pressure,’ Foley said.

Asked whether the operator had any plan to raise the issue in international court, he said that they did not have any such plan but the decision would be taken based on the outcome from the Bangladesh court. ‘We have full trust in and respect for [Bangladesh] court,’ he added.

Asked about GP’s allegation, BTRC chairman Md Jahurul Haque told New Age that the operator should inform the court if any court order was breached by the commission.

He said that the commission would follow any court instruction.

Yasir said that GP had been paying the government Tk 54 out of its Tk 100 in revenue and it had so far paid Tk 73,000 crore to the government exchequer.

In January-September this year, the operator paid Tk 6,138 crore in taxes to the government, representing 57 per cent of GP’s revenue and the rate was 63 per cent in last year.

‘The statement that GP is not paying public money is a false representation of the fact and we do not want any misperception in this regard,’ he said.

Azman said the issue had been impacting significantly on GP’s share prices and its global investors were very much concerned about the issue.

He, however, believes that the issue can still be settled amicably and the operator has approached the commission several times to this end.

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