Mobile operators must pay Tk2.413cr to the government: BTRC

Mobile operators have to pay around Tk2,413 crore to the government due since 2012 as second-generation (2G) spectrum revenue and license fees, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said.

“The government’s money comes from the public, which has to be paid for. The Commission is determined to recover public funds from operators,” said BTRC Chairman Engineer Md Mohiuddin Ahmed while addressing a news conference at the Commission’s office in the capital on Sunday.

Citing the recent court order given to three major telecom operators about the amount to be paid, Mohiuddin Ahmed said: “All the laws and policies of the BTRC have been formulated for the benefit of the people. We aim to bring the telecoms sector to the most up-to-date sector in the country.”

In early 2011 and 2012, Grameenphone and two other telcos filed separate cases challenging the regulator’s demand for 100% of 2G spectrum revenue and license fees.

On January 10, the Supreme Court ordered three private telecom operators – Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink – to pay Tk2,354 crore as an outstanding amount of VAT on 2G spectrum fees and license fees to BTRC.

At the press conference on Sunday, BTRC Commissioner (Legal and Licensing Department) Abu Syed Diljar Hussain said mobile operators were not following the (100+15%) rule while paying spectrum and license fees. Instead, they made the payments by deducting 15% VAT from the main spectrum and license fees.

Ashis Kumar Kundu, Director General (Legal and Licensing Department) at BTRC said on November 22 last year that Grameenphone Tk 1,163.85 crore, Banglalink Tk 625.27 crore, Robi Tk 565.58 crore and Airtel Tk 59.05 crore owes.

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The BTRC will receive 100% of the revenue from the operators and the 15% VAT cannot be added, he said.

However, the mobile operators claimed that they paid 15% sales tax to the National Board of Revenue when paying the fees. It is a double taxation of the operators.

Aside from this matter, in 2019 the BTRC sought an unpaid exam claim of Tk 12,579 crore from Grameenphone and Tk 867.24 crore for Robi. However, the mobile operators denied the payment, calling the claim irrational.

After a long legal wrangling, both operators made a specific payment.

When asked about the audited collection of funds, Abu Syed Diljar Hussain said the duo had deposited around Tk2,200 crore and the matter is now under the jurisdiction.

Among others, BTRC Director General (Systems and Services Division) Brigadier General Md. Nasim Parvez spoke at the press conference, which was moderated by Director (Legal and Licensing) Tareq Hassan Siddiqui.