POST TIME: 16 May, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Foreign firms must have 30pc local ownership for TVAS: BTRC

Foreign firms must have 30pc 
local ownership for TVAS: BTRC

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory

Commission (BTRC) has decided to give licences to foreign firms for Telecommunication Value Added Services

(TVAS), providedthey give at least 30 per cent ownership to local firms.

TVAS refers to those telecommunication services, other than the core services (voice call, SMS, data), that add value to the core and are electronically consumable and deliverable though any access network services using direct operator billing and/or any payment method approved by the central bank. TVAS includes m-health, caller ring back tone and location-based services.

BTRC director general (legal and licencing) AKM Shahiduzzaman said foreign companies would have to register for the TVAS service, keeping at least 30 per cent ownership for domestic firms.

 Recently at least 10 foreign companies had applied to the BTRC, seeking registration for the TVAS service with 100 per cent ownership, but the commission did not agree to the arrangement.

“Many of the foreign companies agreed on this. We hope they will apply afresh, keeping at least 30 per cent ownership for local firms,” said AKM Shahiduzzaman.

According to the list published by the BTRC, it registered 56 companies for TVAS till March this year.

On July 5 last year, the telecom regulator invited applications from competent organisations to register themselves for running the TVAS service. More entities could get TVAS registration as no limit has been set on the number of companies willing to register.

The commission formulated the guidelines to streamline the overcrowded value-added service business and bring the service providers under a regulatory framework. Another reason that prompted the formulation of the guideline was the remittance of huge amounts of funds from Bangladesh by an Indian entity with a very small investment in the country.  Any Bangladeshi entity holding a valid trade licence is eligible to apply for TVAS registration.

However, the Bangladeshi entity may have non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) or a foreign entity as a partner. A consortium of NRBs or a foreign entity without a Bangladeshi partner would not be registered. In case of a consortium, the entity shall have to set up a company as per the Bangladesh law to get registration.

The commission, however, is giving priority to foreign companies. The invitation notice says that in case a foreign entity applies along with a Bangladeshi partner, the foreign equity would be limited to a maximum of 70 per cent. The BTRC may increase the equity for a reputed foreign partner, if required, it added.

The foreign partner will have to invest in foreign currency, directly equal to its percentage of ownership. Moreover, no loan from any Bangladeshi scheduled bank, financial institution or leasing company could be raised for the foreign part of the investment.