Monday, December 17, 2018

Robi, Grameenphone have over Tk 120 billion in back taxes, BTRC says

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-08-09 03:41:05 BdST

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission or BTRC has claimed dues of Tk 120 billion in back taxes and others from telecom operators Robi and Grameenphone following audits.

The telecom regulator has written to the National Board of Revenue or NBR asking it to ensure payment of the dues, a top BTRC official has told bdnews24.com.     

BTRC also sent a letter to Robi on July 31 and is readying another letter for GP, sai the official, who requested not to be named.

The net Robi dues with the BTRC are over Tk 6.77 billion and in VAT and other taxes to the NBR around Tk 1.9 billion.

The BTRC has asked the mobile phone operator to pay the sum within 10 working days from the date of the receipt of the letter.

The regulator appointed Masih Muhith Haque and Company of Bangladesh and PKF Sridhar and Santhanam LLP of India to audit Robi’s information system in March, 2016.

This was the first fully fledged audit of Robi by the BTRC after the firm started its operations in Bangladesh.

The auditors submitted their report recently.

“There were crosschecks when Robi came to us following our notice. They were told about the final figure after debates on the dues,” BTRC Vice-Chairman Jahurul Haque told bdnews24.com.

“We demanded the money following audit rules…We’ll take steps following the law if they do not pay,” he added.

In an email response to bdnews24.com questions on the issue, Robi said it strongly refuses the “deeply flawed” findings of the “so-called” audit and associated demand. “The demand has no legal basis or rationale,” it said.

“Under the relevant telecommunication law, an audit is to be carried out to get an operator’s procedure and systems audited so as to be satisfied about the compliance of the directions issued by the regulator, and to examine the propriety of the reporting system of the operator, and to give directions on these matters.

“The so-called audit miserably failed in its material objectives to examine our procedures and systems, instead, the so-called audit was conducted with a sole objective in mind to make a financial claim against Robi,” Robi said.

It alleged the auditor “flouted the standard practice of seeking observation from the auditee on the auditor’s findings during the audit”.

“This certainly shows their lack of judgement as an auditor to furnish a credible audit report. As a result, the findings do not show true and fair assessment of our operation over the years.

“Furthermore, the so-called audit report is replete with duplicate claims that are being disputed in the court of law over the years. Auditors failed to corroborate information obtained from other sources or historical facts. The so-called findings shows that the auditor lacks the awareness of telecom eco-system or historical developments,” Robi said.

“We, therefore, appealed to the regulator to engage one of the Big Four international auditor to re-conduct the audit,” it added.

GP dues to the government reportedly amounts to over Tk 115.3 billion, including over Tk 74.44 billion to the BTRC and over Tk 40.85 billion to the NBR, the BTRC official requesting anonymity said.

Jahurul said they arranged fresh audit for GP following High Court orders after the first audit found that the largest operator of Bangladesh by subscription had over Tk 30 billion in dues.

“The problem is there will be interests on the sum as a long time has passed,” he said.

He also said they would send a letter to GP seeking payment of the dues.

Toha Khan Zaman and Company of Bangladesh, and C and K Associates LLP of India conducted the fresh audit of GP.

GP said in a statement to bdnews24.com: “As a general principle, we do not comment on rumours and speculations.”

“The System Audit by a BTRC appointed auditor is a long pending issue, and we expect that there would be dialogue with the operators before arriving at a conclusion. We can only comment further on conclusion of any further discussions,” it added.