GP clears stand on regulator’s claim for Tk 3,034cr

Grameenphone yesterday refuted the claim of the regulator that the mobile operator will have to pay Tk 3,034 crore in unpaid revenue and tax.
Kazi Monirul Kabir, chief communications officer of the company, said they “strongly disagree” with the numbers the regulator has claimed in a letter sent to GP on Monday.
In the letter, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said the mobile operator will have to pay Tk 2,146 crore in unpaid revenue and accumulated interest payment to the regulator as of March 31.
The remaining amount — SIM tax and VAT — will go to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), according to the letter.
GP officials said had the audit, which found the amounts to be paid by the operator, been done complying with general rules, the finding would have been different.
Yesterday, the operator sent a reply to the telecom watchdog and also held a press conference at Sonargaon Hotel to clear its stand against the BTRC claim.
“The letter was a surprise and disappointing,” said Kabir at the press conference.
Some of the points were not even discussed with the operator while the audit was performed, he said.
The letter addressing Zia Ahmed, chairman of the BTRC, and signed by Tore Johnsen, chief executive officer of GP, said: “The audit having been not yet finished with the sufficient cross party procedure…it is not understood how the final notice has been issued to instruct GP to pay huge amount of receivables on different accounts.”
Johnsen also said, “We are shocked to see that such a sensitive and confidential letter has been shared with the media by the BTRC without giving proper understanding and interpretation of the technicalities covered in the letter.”
“Through this, the general public have had a wrong interpretation of the facts; which has significantly harmed our corporate reputation and goodwill.”
The BTRC claimed more than Tk 216 crore to GP regarding outstanding revenue sharing. But the GP letter said, according to licence, revenue sharing is at 5.5 percent of collected call charge and rent but not gross revenue (which includes any revenue).
The BTRC had a clarification on this regard on July 29, 2010.
The operator said the BTRC cannot claim the money. The auditor also did not seek any clarification from GP on this matter, said GP.
The regulator claimed outstanding Tk 46.52 crore related to revenue on international outgoing calls. The operator said, according to a letter of the BTRC on July 27, 2010, an operator needs to pay 30 percent of settled invoices.
GP said the auditor in this case considered both settled and unsettled invoices. The auditor did not seek any clarification from GP on this matter.
The company also strongly opposed the BTRC claim of outstanding Tk 53.37 crore related to voice, SMS and internet data.
GP said the auditor considered the call detailed record (CDR) machine-based analysis from inception which is strange as this is not possible as no such data can be collected from GP.
The company said, “It seems that the auditor has extrapolated the data from data for two months that was provided to them for 14 years which is wrong.”
GP claimed they clarified it to the audit firm but they did not considered it.
The watchdog claimed outstanding Tk 1.20 crore for microwave spectrum charge. The operator said it cleared all the payments related to the spectrum charges. The matter was never discussed during the audit.
The BTRC also asked for Tk 599.34 crore related to royalty and licence fee on mobile hand set and base transceiver (BTS). The operator said the issue was resolved by means of amendment of the original licence as this modality was considered to be ‘unworkable’ by the BTRC and the industry.
The operator also said it has paid all relevant royalty payments on BTS as per relevant directives from the BTRC.
On the outstanding Tk 887 crore to be paid to the NBR, the operator said it gave proper clarification on the matter through letters and during the meeting with the auditor.
The rest Tk 1,229.51 crore was interest on all these outstanding amounts.
However, the company requested the regulator to review the notice by October 8 so that the company can continue to resolve all outstanding audit issues in line with the international best practices and audit norms.

-With The Daily Star input

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