BTRC likely to defer 3G auction by 10 days

July 31, 2013

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission is likely to defer the 3G auction, scheduled to be held on September 2, by around 10 days, said BTRC officials.
They said the top officials of the mobile phone companies had met the BTRC chairman on Tuesday, requesting him to delay the auction unless the tax disputes with the government are resolved.
The 3G auction is set to be held on September 2 after the BTRC had rescheduled the date twice in the face of pressure from the operators to resolve issues like 2G licence VAT rebate and SIM replacement tax.
National Board of Revenue chairman Ghulam Hossain and BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose met finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith at his office on Tuesday for suggestions to address the complexities surrounding the auction.
Meeting sources said Muhith asked Ghulam to settle the complexities regarding the tax issues, if there was any.
He advised the telecom ministry to give the entities some more time to resolve the tax dispute.
The mobile phone companies had been demanding that the government resolve the tax disputes before August 1, which is the last day to submit the application and the earnest money.
Posts and telecommunications minister Sahara Khatun in another programme on the day said the government was considering the mobile operators’ request to defer the auction.
‘The operators requested (the government) to defer the 3G auction by one month as there are some unresolved issues. We are considering rescheduling the auction,’ she said while unveiling new stamps at the secretariat.
Telecom secretary Abubaker Siddiqi, also present on the occasion, said the government would decide about the rescheduling very soon.
‘The operators are in talks with some tax-related issues with the revenue board,’ he said when asked about the government’s tax disputes with the mobile phone operators.
Four mobile phone operators — Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel — on several occasions said that they would not participate in the 3G auction if their demand was not met.
The operators on different occasions also pressurised the government to change some clauses that hurt their business interest.
The BTRC will award three licences to three out of five mobile phone companies operating in the country and one to a foreign firm. Another local operator, the state-run Teletalk, has already got the 3G licence by default.
A total of 40 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned for eight blocks where a single bidder can bid for maximum two blocks.
The minimum allocation for a spectrum block is 5 MHz with base price of $20 million for each MHz.

-With New Age input

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