Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Govt to settle Grameenphone, Robi dispute over audit claims

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-09-18 19:26:43 BdST

bdnews24

The government has moved to broker a settlement in the ongoing dispute between the telecom regulator and the country’s two leading mobile operators, Grameenphone and Robi, over unpaid ‘dues’ found in audit.

Finance Minister AKM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday promised to find a ‘win-win situation’ for both sides and hoped for an outcome within the next three weeks.

There are some disagreements over the audit objections, Kamal told reporters at the Secretariat. Both notice issued by BTRC and the civil suits filed by the operators will be retracted, he added.

According to the BTRC, Grameenphone has about Tk 125.8 billion in dues found in audit while Robi, the second largest operator in terms of subscriber base, also has over Tk 8.67 billion in unpaid bills.

In a reprisal for the failure of the operators to pay up the “dues” despite reminders, it ordered the International Internet Gateway or IIG operators to limit Grameenphone’s bandwidth capacity by 30 percent and Robi’s 15 percent on July 4.

It was followed by the decision to stop issuing NOCs and other approvals before notices were served on Grameenphone and Robi on Sept 5, asking them to explain why their licences to offer 2G and 3G services will not be revoked over the failure to pay up.

The operators with a combined customer base of over 120 million were given 30 days to reply as BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque threatened to appoint administrators to recover the arrears should they fail to respond or pay up.

But prior to the issuance of the notice, Robi and Grameenphone filed separate civil suits to settle the dispute on Aug 25 and 26 respectively, calling the BTRC's claims ‘unfounded’ and ‘faulty’.