Bangladeshi market leader Grameenphone has been given three months by the country’s Supreme Court to make its first arrears payment following an audit of its finances.
The investigation into unpaid taxes and dues began in 2017 and covers the years going back to 1996. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is attempting to procure a total of BDT126 billion from the operator but its petition to collect the full amount was thrown out by the Supreme Court.
Grameenphone has an injunction against the order to collect the full amount, but it instead must pay the regulator BDT20 billion ($235.9 million) within three months, with BTRC viewing this as a down payment pending a court decision on the full amount owed.
Rival operator Robi Axiata also owes unpaid fees worth around BDT8.67 billion. Like Grameenphone, it has an injunction preventing the regulator from collecting the full amount and has offered to pay a deposit of BDT70 million.
Grameenphone stated: “We reaffirm our commitment to resolve the audit issue by continuing with the jointly committed transparent process towards an amicable resolution…we look forward to BTRC to immediately comply with the valid injunction order and not to obstruct GP from proceeding with its planned network expansion.”
The BTRC has stated that once it received deposits from the operators, it will launch a special committee to investigate the tax bills, which are at the centre of a long-standing spat.