Private mobile network carrier Robi has begun the "ice-breaking" by paying the first instalment of its dues to the regulator, said Mustafa Jabbar, the posts and telecommunications minister.
"Robi has set the path [to pay dues], and I hope the other operator (Grameenphone) will follow it," the minister said at a press conference in the capital on Wednesday.
The press conference was organised to brief reporters about the 3-day-long Digital Bangladesh Mela 2020 beginning on Thursday at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
On Tuesday, Robi paid Tk27.60 crore to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The government believes this move has opened up a path to realise all dues, in the form of unpaid revenues, taxes and late fees, from other mobile phone operators.
On January 5 last year, the High Court asked Robi, the country's second largest mobile network operator, to pay Tk138 crore to the BTRC, out of its Tk867.23 crore owed to the regulator, in instalments within the next five months.
The BTRC also claimed Tk12,579 crore from Grameenphone – the largest mobile network carrier of the country. On November 24 the same year, the High Court asked Grameenphone to pay Tk2,000 crore out of the total sum in dues claimed by the commission.
However, the company is yet to make a decision to pay the amount although February 24, 2020, the last date to pay the money, is approaching.
Minister Jabbar thanked Robi, saying that it has finally realised it has to comply with the rules and regulations of Bangladesh to run its business.
"…I would like to make it clear that those who are doing business in Bangladesh, especially in the telecom sector, will have to follow and respect Bangladesh's law," said Jabbar.
But, Robi on Tuesday said it paid the sum as it wanted to raise Tk500 crore in capital to expand its business by listing with the stock market.
It also vowed it would continue its legal battle with the government to settle the issue on its dues as well as to reclaim the money it deposited to the regulator on Tuesday.
"…We are determined to exhaust the legal recourse available to us and hope that we will be able to reclaim the deposit we are making today [Tuesday] in due course," Shahed Alam, the chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi, said on Tuesday.
At the Wednesday press conference, Md Nur-Ur-Rahman, the posts and telecommunications secretary, and Md Jahurul Haque, the BTRC chairman, were also present among others.
"We have succeeded [in realising dues with telecom operators] even though critics thought we would fail," said BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque.
"We offered it to start paying its dues by depositing Tk50 crore initially. But it refused and went to the court," he continued.
As the court ordered Robi to pay the sum, the company found no other alternative but to pay the money, Jahurul added.
He further said the BTRC issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Robi, which will be effective till February 28 this year. "But if it fails to pay the second instalment by this time, their NOC will be suspended."
Digital Bangladesh Mela 2020 from Thursday
To showcase IT and IT enable services, including the Fifth Generation (5G) technology, the Digital Bangladesh Mela 2020 is going to begin on Thursday.
Sajeeb Wazed, the information and communication technology advisor to the prime minister, will inaugurate the programme, said Minister Jabbar.
With a theme "The technological highway to Bangabandhu's Sonar Bangla", the exposition will begin at 10am. The entry in the fair will be free of cost.
The minister said as many as 82 organisations will participate in the fair, and they will showcase their IT products and services, including parental control, tripod play, mobile apps, broadband internet service and digital technologies.
Jabbar said the 5G technology and 5G-enabled devices, which are now the talk of the tech world, would be the main attraction of the fair.
Chinese multinational telecommunications, including ZTE Corporation and Huawei, Finnish telecommunications company Nokia, Swedish networking and telecommunications company Ericsson will display their technology in the fair.
The fair will also host 13 seminars, participated by national and international experts, focusing on different crucial areas, including talent gap, digital economy and digital growth.