The Supreme Court has directed telecom operator Grameenphone (GP) to pay another Tk 10 billion due to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) within the next three months.
The court has also asked the government not to cause any inconvenience to the telecom operator's business during this period.
A six-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order on Monday (Feb 24).
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and Barrister Khandaker Reza-e-Rakib stood for BTRC while Senior Lawyers Advocate AM Amin Uddin and Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury stood for GP during the hearing.
Earlier on Sunday (Feb 23), GP deposited Tk 10 billion as partial payment of the total audit claim of Tk 125.8 billion by BTRC.
On Feb 20, the Appellate Division issued an order asking GP to pay Tk 10 billion to BTRC by Feb 24.
A day before the hearing, GP had offered BTRC Tk 1 billion in token of their willingness to continue dialogue with the government about resolving the dispute about the audit claim.
After running an audit on GP, the BTRC in 2016 had claimed Tk 125.8 billion from the mobile phone operator in taxes and late fees accumulated over years.
The dispute about the audit intensified in 2019, with the company facing regulatory punishment, including suspension of service and expansion, for not clearing the audit claim.
On Nov 24, 2019, the Appellate Division ordered GP to pay Tk 20 billion of the total dues within three months. The deadline expires on Monday.
The telecom regulator claimed the dues in 27 sectors from GP, but failed to recover the money. Later, BTRC sent a notice to GP threatening to revoke its licence on Apr 2, 2019.
But GP moved the court, seeking a temporary injunction on the notice which was turned down on Aug 28, 2019. It later filed an appeal with the High Court Division.
On Oct 17, 2019, the High Court imposed a two-month injunction on realization of dues from GP. BTRC later moved the Appellate Division against the order.
Meanwhile, the news that Grameenphone paid a part of the audit claim was received positively at stock market, which pushed up GP’s share price by 7.58%, or Tk 22.4, at the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) on the day. It closed at Tk 319.60 per share.