Grameenphone, the country's largest telecom operator, has paid Tk1000 crore to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) today over its disputed audit claim.
A four-member team, led by Grameenphone's Head of Regulatory Affairs Hossain Sadat submitted the pay order to BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque around 3:25pm at BTRC office in the capital.
Earlier on Friday, Grameenphone decided to deposit the money to BTRC following the order of the Appellate Division on the company's review petition.
In a statement issued on Friday, signed by Grameenphone's Head of External Communications Md Hasan, GP said that the company respects the legal system of Bangladesh, the Supreme Court's direction, and looks forward to getting court protection from the pressure the BTRC has applied to the company and its management.
The statement further said, "The BTRC has applied several actions to restrict Grameenphone's operations, including declining no objection certificates, issuing show cause notice for license cancellation, denying recycling of number series and threatening the company with the appointment of an administrator.
On Wednesday (February 19), Grameenphone offered Tk100 crore to BTRC to continue dialogues over its disputed audit claim. However, the telecom regulator rejected it saying the court has an order on the issue and the BTRC cannot take any decision bypassing the court.
How it all began
In April last year, the BTRC demanded that GP pay an unpaid audit claim of Tk12,580 crore, which the company refused to pay questioning the BTRC's audit process.
The telecom operator moved to the lower court, seeking a temporary injunction on the BTRC's claim. But it did not get it. Then, GP moved to the High Court with the same prayer.
In October, a High Court bench issued a two-month injunction against the BTRC move.
Later, the BTRC appealed to the Appellate Division, seeking a stay order on the injunction and won the legal battle.
A stumbling block to business growth
In July last year, the telecom regulator stopped issuing no objection certificates to GP for importing network expansion equipment.
The BTRC also barred it from offering new service packages and importing new SIM cards until the clearance of the audit claim.
All those are dragging GP behind in terms of improving customer experience and coming up with better services, the company officials have repeatedly complained.
A few weeks later, the BTRC also attempted to appoint an administrator in the company, which is believed to be a punishing disruption in the business operation.
The dispute over interest charges
According to the government, GP owes the BTRC Tk8,494 crore and the National Board of Revenue Tk4,086 crore.
Of the BTRC's total claim, the principal amount is Tk2,300 crore and the rest is interests charged over two decades.
Grameenphone's lawyer Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury on Thursday said the BTRC imposed compound interests on GP but charged its competitor Robi simple interests in the same case.