Robi, Grameenphone go to court against regulator's tax claims

Thursday 12 September 2019 | 10:05 CET | News
Bangladeshi mobile operators Robi and Grameenphone have filed two cases with a Dhaka court, seeking permanent injunctions against the telecom regulator’s audit claims of BDT 134.47 billion, local newspaper The Daily Star reports. On 5 September, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered Robi and Grameenphone to explain within 30 days why their licenses should not be cancelled for failing to pay their fees.

Robi’s chief corporate and regulatory officer Shahed Alam claims Robi has tried to solve the matter amicably through negotiations or arbitration. However, “the BTRC has taken steps beyond the legal provisions for realising the amount it claimed through a highly questionable audit. As a result, Robi had no option but to file a civil suit with the court”, Alam said.  

Grameenphone also said they consistently raised objections to the process, methodology and the findings of BTRC’s auditor. “Despite that, we have been pursuing continuously to establish a constructive dialogue with the regulator to reach an amicable transparent solution, including arbitration. Unfortunately, all our efforts had been unheeded by the BTRC and they have been seeking to realise the disputed audit claims by enforcing unwarranted measures”, Grameenphone said.

The BTRC carried out separate audits into Robi and Grameenphone’ books from the launch of their operatories until December 2014 and concluded that the two operators should pay Robi should pay BDT 8.67 billion, and Grameenphone BDT 125.79 billion. These amounts include unpaid yearly spectrum fees, VAT, and revenue sharing. Both operators contested the amounts and claimed that they did not evade any taxes.

Back in July, the BTRC partially blocked Grameenphone’s and Robi’s bandwidth capacity for non-payment of dues detected in audits, local newspaper The Daily Star reports. Grameenphone and Robi currently serve around 122.5 million subscribers on the local market. The BTRC says there is no scope for arbitration under the existing law over its action against the two operators.

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Categories: Mobile & Wireless
Companies: GrameenPhone / Robi
Countries: Bangladesh
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