There is no way to reduce the amount that Grameenphone and Robi owe the government, said Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar.
He made the statement on Monday after inaugurating the 59th council meeting of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation in Dhaka.
The theme for the event is "Towards a Digital Commonwealth", and Mustafa Jabbar attended the programme as chief guest.
"We have outlined the owed amount to the mobile service providers. If there are any errors in that amount, it can be adjusted. But we do not have the authority to reduce the amount," Jabbar told reporters in response to a question on the issue.
There is a long-standing dispute between the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and telecom service providers Grameenphone and Robi over audit claims of Tk12,579 crore and Tk867.24 crore respectively.
The dispute came to a head when the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission attempted to cancel the operators' 2G and 3G licenses after limiting their bandwidth and stopped issuing them a no objection certificate.
But in a dramatic move, the Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal took the matter in his own hands. The Business Standard has learned that the dues are reportedly going to be reduced.
Inaugurating the programme, Jabbar further said, "We are a success story for commonwealth countries as we have started working on digitalisation since 2010. But the commonwealth has started it now.
"Bangladesh is now focusing on 5G spectrum management, cyber-security and tackling the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution."
The 59th council meeting of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation will continue till October 2, and the Information and Communication Technology and Telecommunications Annual Forum will be held on October 3-4 in Dhaka.
More than 300 delegates from commonwealth countries are participating in this iteration of the council meeting and the annual forum.
Issues such as 5G and cyber-security will be major discussion points during various sessions in the event.
AKM Rahmatullah, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee for the ministry of posts, telecommunication and information technology, Ashoke Kumar Biswas, secretary of the same ministry and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, chairman of the council meeting, among others, spoke at the event.