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18 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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HC stays BTRC order to realise GP dues

Govt clears way to appoint administrators in GP, Robi
STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
HC stays BTRC order to realise GP dues

The High Court (HC) yesterday issued an interim injunction order for two months on the letter issued by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), asking the country's leading telecom operator, Grameenphone (GP), to pay Tk. 12,579.95 crore in dues. The second largest operator, Robi, will also move the HC, seeking a stay order against the BTRC move next week, sources said.

The government had approved appointment of administrators at Grameenphone and Robi, following a long-drawn row over dues. The Telecommunication and the ICT ministry yesterday cleared a proposal of the BTRC to this effect. "We don't have any war with the operators. We just want payment of the dues based on audit claim,” ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Independent yesterday. When asked about the GP stay order, Jabbar lamented: “GP only understands how to file a case.”

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, advocate AM Amin Uddin, who appeared for the GP during yesterday’s hearing, told The Independent that though the government decided to appoint an administrator for realising money, the HC stayed the proceedings of recovering money from the GP. “So, at this stage, there is no benefit for the government to appoint an administrator only to realise the dues as per the BTRC’s demand”, he said.

On September 18, a meeting was held at the finance ministry, where post and telecoms minister Jabbar, finance minister AHM Mostafa Kamal, the NBR chairman, the BTRC chairman, and senior officials of GP and Robi were present. The operators agreed to settle the issue through discussion. But the effort seems to have gone in vain as no further progress was seen in this regard. Grameenphone and Robi were supposed to pay Tk. 100 crore and Tk. 50 crore, respectively, to the BTRC within seven days of that meeting. However, they reportedly have not made any payment.

“The operators did not comply with any single decision taken at that meeting. Now we are going to take stern action to realise the dues from the operators,” said Mustafa Jabbar.

Grameenphone has outstanding dues of Tk. 12,579 crore, while Robi’s dues are Tk. 867.24 crore, according to BTRC audits. The BTRC had served Grameenphone a notice on April 2, asking the operator to pay the dues.The mobile operator then filed a case before a lower court, seeking a stay order on the BTRC notice. However, the court rejected the plea on August 28. Later, GP filed an appeal before the HC.

The HC yesterday fixed November 5 for holding hearing on an appeal filed by the GP against the lower court order that upheld the BTRC demand of recovering Tk. 12,579.95 crore in dues. After accepting the appeal of GP for hearing, an HC bench, comprising Justice AKM Abdul Hakim and Justice Fatema Najib, came up with the order.

Advocate Sharif Bhuiyan and advocate Tanim Hossain assisted the SCBA president on behalf of GP, while advocate Khandaker Reza-e-Rakib represented the BTRC during yesterday’s proceedings. When contacted, officials of Robi told The Independent that they were observing the proceedings and will take further action next week.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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