Bangladesh’s government extended an olive branch to the county’s two largest operators, offering to resolve a long-running dispute on claims they owe a combined BDT135 billion ($1.6 billion) in unpaid taxes and dues, The Independent reported.
Grameenphone and Robi, which in July filed separate cases seeking injunctions against the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s (BTRC) order to collect the fees, agreed to halt their cases.
Meanwhile, the regulator said it would withdraw show-cause notices, which gave the operators 30 days to explain why their licences should not be cancelled, the newspaper wrote.
The notices were issued after BTRC reduced Grameenphone’s bandwidth by 30 per cent and Robi’s by 15 per cent for their failure to make the payments. The restriction, however, was removed after a week due to the disruption it caused subscribers.
A step forward
At a press briefing Bangladesh finance minister Mustafa Kamal said an agreement would be reached within three weeks after discussions with stakeholders.
He, however, offered no detail as to how the conflict would be resolved. Kamal added it was logical it wanted to realise the unpaid dues, and “the mobile operators will also pay their dues after settling the issue”, The Independent wrote.
The demands were made following an audit covering operations before 2015, where the regulator concluded market leader Grameenphone owed BDT126 billion with Robi due to pay BDT8.67 billion.
Grameenphone CEO Michael Foley said in a Tweet: “I am grateful to the Ministers of Finance, of Posts & Telecoms, the Chairs of the National Board of Revenue & of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission for stepping in to move this issue towards resolution.”
In a statement, Robi welcomed the government’s initiative “to start a candid and transparent discussion on resolving the disputed audit claims”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back