Citycell’s demise a formality away

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also heads the posts, Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, gave the green light to the cancellation of Citycell's license on non-payment Taxes and fees.

All that is needed now for the curtains to descend on the country's oldest operator is once and for all a public notification of the telecommunications regulator.

The issue of public notification will be raised at the next meeting of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, which recommended cancellation last month.

"The decision has been made to ensure regulation in this area," said a senior official of the legal wing and licensing of the BTRC.

The Citycell spectrum will now go on sale for the 4G auction.

"It will be a first for the country," he added. Citycell management remained unavailable for comment yesterday.

In October last year, the BTRC shutdown is changing Citycell's network on Tk 377 crore regarding spectrum fees and licensing, revenue sharing and late penalty.

The operator then paid Tk 230.19 crore to the BTRC with Tk 14 crore as a tax to the National Revenue Board, according to the documents.

However, he then challenged the amount claimed by BTRC, prompting the tribunal to form a three-member panel to determine the exact amount outstanding.

In the meantime, the court asked the descendant operator to continue to clean up its remaining royalties at the BTRC. But Citycell made no payments between October last year and March this year, which means that it also violated the court ruling, according to BTRC officials.

Section 46 of the Telecommunications Act allows the BTRC to cancel the license of any entity for non-payment of dues. In June, the BTRC made its recommendation to cancel Citycell's license. Meanwhile, Citycell is of the view that it created Tk 129.27 crore of overpayment at the BTRC.

The operator has paid Tk 476.27 crore as spectrum fee, license fees, revenue sharing and social bond funds for the telecommunications regulator, said Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd., Mother of Citycell.

His contributions till last October were Tk 346.99 crore, which means that another Tk 129.27 crore has already been provided to the telecommunications regulator, said PBTL. Thus, the contributions made since October 2016 should be adjusted in relation to the additional TTH 129.27 crore paid by PBTL, added.

In addition to its BTRC contributions, Citycell is Tk 3,000-4,000 crore in the red to various banks and financial institutions, suppliers, tax authorities and other operators, according to insiders.

Among the banks, the National Bank had set the Citycell headquarters for sale in May after the operator did not repay its loan of Tk 454.45 crore. The bank, however, found no interested party. The Chinese Development Bank also filed a petition last year to make its $ 36.63 million contribution to Citycell. Singapore SingTel owns 44.54 percent of shares in Citycell, Pacific Motors 37.95 percent and Far East Telecom 17.51 ​​percent, according to their annual report.

Shareholders had tried to sell the mining license in recent years but to no avail.

Citycell began its journey in 1993, with its subscription striking a peak of 19 lakh in 2011.

But at the time of the shutdown of the network by the BTRC in October last year, its customer base was only 1.25 lakh.

In fiscal year 2014-15, Citycell's total turnover was Tk 139.77 crore, while its investment was nil, according to the BTRC.

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