Mobile operators must pay around Tk2,413 crore to the government which remains due since 2012 as revenue on second generation (2G) spectrum and licence fees, said the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
“The government’s money comes from the general public which must be paid up. The commission is determined to recover public money from the operators,” said BTRC Chairman Engineer Md Mohiuddin Ahmed while addressing a press conference at the commission’s office in the capital on Sunday.
Citing the recent apex court order to three major telecom operators on the payable amount, Mohiuddin Ahmed said, “All the laws and policies of the BTRC have been formulated for the welfare of the people. We want to make the telecommunication sector an up-to-date sector in the country.”
Earlier in 2011 and 2012, Grameenphone and two other telecom service providers filed separate cases challenging the regulatory commission’s 100% revenue claim on the 2G spectrum and license fees.
On 10 January, the Supreme Court ordered three private telecom operators – Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink – to pay Tk2,354 crore to the BTRC as the outstanding amount of the value-added tax on 2G spectrum fees and licence fees.
At Sunday’s press conference, BTRC Commissioner (Legal and Licensing Division) Abu Syed Diljar Hussain said the mobile operators did not follow the (100+15%) rule while paying spectrum and license fees. Instead, they have made the payments by deducting the 15% VAT on the principal fees for the spectrum and license.
Ashis Kumar Kundu, director general (Legal and Licensing Division) at BTRC, said, as of 22 November last year, Grameenphone owes Tk1,163.85 crore, Banglalink Tk625.27crore, Robi Tk 565.58 crore and Airtel Tk59.05 crore.
The BTRC will get 100% of revenue from the operators and the 15% VAT cannot be added, he said.
Mobile operators, however, claimed that they deposited 15% VAT to the National Board of Revenue while paying the fees. It is double taxation on the operators.
Apart from this matter, in 2019, the BTRC demanded an unpaid audit claim of Tk12,579 crore from Grameenphone and Tk 867.24 crore for Robi. But the mobile operators denied making the payment, stating the claim as irrational.
After a long legal tussle, both operators made a certain payment.
When asked about the audited amount collection, Abu Syed Diljar Hussain said the duo have deposited around Tk2,200 crore and the issue is now under sub-jurisdiction.
Among others, BTRC Director General (Systems and Services Division) Brig Gen Md Nasim Parvez spoke at the press conference, moderated by Director (Legal and Licensing) Tareq Hassan Siddiqui.