After a stand-off with the BTRC for more than eight months, four mobile phone operators Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Citycell will get their 2G licences renewed on Tuesday for the next 15 years.
Zia Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), said they have sent letters to the operators yesterday asking them to send their representatives to collect the licences.
The telecom regulator made the move upon receiving a letter from the telecommunications ministry on Wednesday. The letter asked the BTRC to issue the licences to the operators within a week and sign a tripartite agreement with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the operators.
The mobile phone operators yesterday expressed their gratitude to the regulator and ministry officials concerned for resolving the outstanding differences.
The validity of the four operators’ licences ended on November 10 last year; but disagreement between the regulator and the operators over determining the renewal fees and collection of value added tax (VAT) delayed the licence renewal process.
The four operators will pay around Tk 9,200 crore including VAT as their licence renewal fees. They paid 49 percent of the amount in November last year as the first instalment.
The second instalment (29 percent) was due by August 1, but the BTRC has extended the deadline to August 31 as per the recommendations made by the ministry, said Zia.
The operators will now be able to deposit the second instalment within the extended deadline without paying any late fee.
The third instalment, however, is payable within December.
Under the agreement, the operators will get rebate from their earlier payment of 15 percent VAT to NBR, opportunity to waive late fees and get back the extra amount that was collected from them against the sale of spectrum in the 1800 band in 2008.
This was decided at an inter-ministerial meeting on July 23 at the finance ministry.
Asked about the agreement, Zia said it was beyond his understanding why the regulator should enter an agreement with the operators. “We will consider signing the deal.”
However, several cases are still pending with the High Court and Supreme Court over the renewal of licences, where the BTRC, NBR and the four operators are parties.
All the parties will withdraw their cases, according to the draft of the agreement.
Contacted, Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate officer of Grameenphone, said they are happy to receive the licence, for which had been waiting for a long time.
“If the government ensures a business-friendly environment, the operators will be able to contribute more to the country’s economy,” he added.
Mahmudur Rahman, executive vice-president of Robi, expressed his satisfaction over the fruitful solution to the issue.
“If we sit together, all the issues will be resolved amicably now and in future,” mentioned Mahmudur.
-With The Daily Star input