The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Monday invited again tenders for appointing consulting or audit firm for information system audit of the country’s third largest mobile operator, Banglalink Digital Communications.
The tenders were invited based on a recent BTRC decision and consulting and audit firms have been asked to submit expression of interest by February 4.
The commission would follow quality and cost-based selection process where foreign affiliation of the bidders would be treated as an advantage.
The commission has made the fresh move to audit Banglalink amid the regulator’s tussle and legal battle with two leading operators, Grameenphone and Robi, over audit claims worth Tk 13,447.19 crore.
The BTRC, in the tender document, mentioned June, 2020 as the indicative audit commencement time and November, 2020 as the audit completion time.
The auditor would be liable specifically for scrutinising regulatory and legal matters, technical matters and financial matters along with any other matters, the BTRC mentioned in the tender document published on its web site.
To be eligible, the commission specified the membership of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) as one of the criteria.
Additionally, sufficient technical and information system auditing experience, in multinational telecom or IT firms, of the lead firm or any of its joint venture, consortium or association partners has been mentioned as another qualification.
Earlier in December, 2017, the commission had published a bid, seeking expression of interest from auditors to conduct financial and technical inspections in Banglalink and Airtel. Airtel was merged with Robi in November, 2016.
The BTRC scrapped the previous tendering process as its committee, formed to deal with the auditor selection and appointment process, had failed to follow the due course and criteria, BTRC officials said.
Banglalink corporate communications senior manager Ankit Sureka said, ‘As one of the leading compliant organisations in the country, we welcome the move taken by the BTRC to audit Banglalink for verifying its compliance with the licence obligations.’
‘Along with pledging to fully comply with the terms and conditions of the audit, we would like to assure the BTRC of our full cooperation during the audit procedure,’ he said.
‘However, we expect that the entire audit process will be conducted in an acceptable and fair manner following the local laws and international audit standards so that all the parties can come to a conclusion regarding the matter with full transparency,’ Ankit said.
‘Furthermore, we also expect that all remaining operators whose audit has not been done yet (e.g. Airtel and Teletalk) should go through the same process to ensure level playing field,’ he said.
Apart from Banglalink, the BTRC in December last year decided to make a fresh attempt to appoint an auditor to conduct financial and technical inspections in Airtel.
The commission four years ago had formally decided to launch audit in the two mobile operators along with out-of-operation Citycell.
For Banglalink, the auditor was supposed to cover Banglalink’s technical and financial books in the 1996-2017 period. The auditor for Airtel was supposed to cover the 2006-2017 period.
In September, 2015, the BTRC decided to audit all the five private mobile phone operators.
In October of the same year, it appointed audit firm Toha Khan Zaman & Co for auditing Grameenphone.
In March, 2016, Masih Muhith Haque & Co was appointed to conduct the information system audit in Robi Axiata.
Based on the two audits, the telecom regulator has already claimed Tk 12,579.95 crore from GP and Tk 867.24 crore from Robi Axiata.
The mobile phone operators, however, are yet to clear the dues.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on November 24 last year instructed GP to pay the BTRC in three months Tk 2,000 crore out of the audit claim and the High Court on Sunday asked Robi to pay in five months Tk 138 crore out the audit claim.
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