GP is bound to pay outstanding Tk 12,579cr: BTRC

DHAKA, April 24, 2019 : Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said the country’s leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone has no alternative to paying Taka 12,579 crore dues unearthed through an audit.

Talking, BTRC Chairman Md. Jahurul Haque today said the Grameenphone is legally bound to make the payment of the outstanding amount unearthed by conducting an audit.

“The audit has been conducted complying all legal and other aspects fully,” he asserted, as the operator has raised questions terming the audit “unfounded and without any legal basis”.

In replying to a query, Haque said the commission had finalized the audit procedures in consultation with Grameenphone. “So, it (Grameenphone) is legally bound to pay the money.”

Officials said the telecom regulator is mulling to force the operator to pay the outstanding amount following legal procedures such as stopping issuance of NOC, putting cap on customer base and temporary ban of license.

They said the regulator in the first week of the current month (April) sent a notice to Grameenphone asking to pay Taka 12,579.95 crore as dues and the operator was given two weeks to pay the unpaid amount.

Of the total unpaid amount, Grameenphone owes Taka 8,494 crore to BTRC while the remaining Taka 4,085 crore to National Board of Revenue (NBR).

Officials said BTRC had sought the unpaid amount from the Grameenphone conducting an audit to the operator’s books from its inception until June 2015. Back in 2011, the telecom regulator carried out first audit to the books of the operator and unearthed financial discrepancies amounting to Taka 3,034 crore since its inception in 1996 through to March 2011, they added.

Grameenphone, however, disputed the then appointment process of the auditing firm, that’s why in October 2015 another firm, Toha Khan Zaman & Co., was hired to scrutinize all the documents of the leading operator since its inception until June 2015.

But, Grameenphone earlier in a statement said it does not admit the demand.

“Grameenphone considers the demand as unfounded and without any legal basis and has a responsibility to its shareholders to defend the Company against all unacceptable claims,” it read.

“We have requested BTRC for prompt withdrawal of the demand and for discussions towards an amicable resolution,” added the statement.

Norwegian company, Telenor has a 55.8 percent share of Grameenphone while Grameen Telecom Corporation owns 34.2 percent, and the remaining 10 percent of the shares belong to retail and institutional investors.

Earlier, the regulator demanded Taka 867.24 crore from the country’s second largest operator Robi as missed or under payments over a 19-year period, detected after a thorough audit.