The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has initiated a move against five mobile phone operators for non-payment of unused balance in the SIM cards which were blocked by the telecom regulator for various reasons.
Although the BTRC issued a directive in this regard last year, none of the country’s mobile phone operators, except Grameenphone, is yet to return the money to the commission.
Country’s leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone in February this year deposited Tk 7.33 crore in the telecom regulator against the unused balance in the connections that were blocked in between 2008 and 2014.
BTRC officials said that the commission might take punitive measures against the other operators — Banglalink, Robi, Airtel, Citycell and Teletalk — in this regard. Airtel, formerly known as Warid Telecom, has already merged with Robi in November, 2016.
Although the telecom regulator asked the mobile phone operators to give data of unused balance in SIM cards which were blocked for different misdeeds mostly for operating illegal voice over internet protocol services, none of the operators, except GP, is yet to provide any such data, the BTRC officials said.
Meanwhile, the BTRC also issued show-cause notices to the operators asking them to show reasons why they did not provide the commission with the unused balance-related data, a senior BTRC official said.
The entities, however, refrained from giving any reply as well, he said.
Considering the reluctance of the operators, the commission has initiated a move to take regulatory measures in this regard, he said.
The issue would be placed in the upcoming commission meeting for final decision, the BTRC official said.
He also said the operators have around two crore blocked connections and most of the accounts have unused balance worth a few hundred crores of taka.
The BTRC had blocked 25,40,666 SIMs of Grameenphone in the six years (2008-2014) for allegations of use in illegal call termination and most had unused credit balance stored in them.
After the payment of the money, the telecom regulator has allowed GP to resell these blocked numbers.
In a letter to the BTRC, Grameenphone said the total unused balance of the SIMs blocked in the six years was Tk 9.37 crore, of which, it had already deposited Tk 1.22 crore to the government exchequer as 15 per cent value-added tax.
Besides, GP also deducted Tk 81.44 lakh — 10 per cent of the amount — as different taxes that they had already paid to different government authorities.