Cellcos delaying USD100m overdue licence renewal payments

20 Feb 2012

Bangladeshi mobile operators GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Robi and CityCell have refused to pay outstanding fees for their licence renewals worth a combined BDT8.57 billion (USD101 million) until they receive certified copies of a High Court verdict on a related case contested by GrameenPhone and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). As reported by The Daily Star, the four operators were issued the licence renewal demands on 10 November 2011 and have since accrued additional late fees – which the BTRC says it has no authority to waive, in response to the cellcos’ pleas. GrameenPhone has submitted a query on the regulator’s most recent demand for full payment of late fees, while Banglalink has requested a discussion with the BTRC over the financial issues. According to the High Court’s decision of 13 February, GrameenPhone must pay licence renewal fees in their entirety – BDT3.96 billion including BDT1.47 billion in dues and late fees since 2010 – to the BTRC without any deductions, in order to receive a new operating concession.

BTRC also last week sent letters to the other three mobile operators, telling them to pay respective outstanding totals of: BDT2.18 billion (Banglalink); BDT1.99 billion (Robi); and BDT442 million (CityCell). In November, the four operators paid a combined amount of BDT31.8 billion as part of the first instalment of licence renewal charges. However, they held back part of the money owed, and the case went to court, in the process accruing an additional 15% interest on the renewal fees in line with the telecoms law, the BTRC stated. TeleGeography notes that the operators’ original concessions officially expired on 15 November 2011, to be replaced by new licences of 15-year duration with fees payable in four instalments ending in May 2013.

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