Heated debate in JS body over IGW rate cut proposalAhmed Shawki
The parliamentary standing committee on telecom ministry on Tuesday witnessed a heated debate over a proposal to slash the rate of international incoming calls to 1.5 US cents from 3 US cents for gateway operators as some members backed the proposal despite opposition from the ministry.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in July sent a proposal to the telecom ministry to slash the call rate and government revenue sharing from international gateway operators in a bid to favour the new IGWs, mostly owned by people backed by the ruling party.
The ministry, however, opposed the BTRC proposal as it would cut down government revenue by Tk 1,073 crore.
The standing committee meeting sources said that the chairman of the body Md Abdus Sattar raised the issue and recommended reduction of the call termination rate as early as possible.
Telecom minister Sahara Khatun, secretary Md Abubakar Siddique and committee member ASM Firoz and some other members disagreed with the BTRC proposal at the meeting, they said.
Meeting sources said the BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose was vocal about the proposal claiming that the move would help to lower the illegal VoIP calls.
Sources said that a heated debate took place as some members said why the issue was raised although it was not in the agenda and they also questioned why some members were trying to cause loss to the government exchequer by reducing call rate.
The committee, however, decided to recommend the ministry to cut the rates for three months on a test basis before taking a final decision.
According to the BTRC data, the country records around 55 million minutes of international incoming calls daily out of which 35 million minutes are disclosed to regulators.
The BTRC proposal also said the market turned dull because too many IGW licences had been issued and lowering the rates would make new IGWs sustainable.
BTRC had also proposed to lower the government revenue sharing to 40 per cent from the existing 51.75 per cent.
The BTRC in its proposal admitted that the proposed plan would slash the government revenue to Tk 777 crore from Tk 1,851 crore – the government’s annual income from IGW and ICX operators last year.
Only four companies were given licences through an auction when IGW service was introduced in Bangladesh in 2008.
The present Awami League-led government awarded 25 more licences – mostly to people linked to the ruling party although the then BTRC had proposed at best 10 more licences considering the market depth.
BTRC officials said because of issuing too many IGW licensed on political consideration, the market became volatile and the overall industry was running out of business.
They said most of the newly licensed IGWs were not able to pay the government dues and the BTRC was yet to realise Tk 275 crore from 10 IGWs who were blocked last week.
They said a group of IGW operators were lobbying with different government high-ups to pass the BTRC proposal.
‘So the entire move is initiated to facilitate the politically licensed IGWs at the cost of government revenue,’ a senior BTRC official told New Age.
The BTRC officials named some companies such as Roots Communications Ltd, First Communications Limited, Vision Tel Limited, Ratul Telecom Limited and Digicon Telecommunications Limited which, they said, had ‘strong links’ to the ruling party or its allies.
comments powered by Disqus
The parliamentary standing committee on telecom ministry on Tuesday witnessed a heated debate over a proposal to slash the rate of international incoming calls to 1.5 US cents from 3 US cents for gateway operators as some members backed the proposal despite opposition from the ministry. Full story
The country’s rawhide traders expect to collect at least 70 lakh pieces of raw hides of sacrificial animals in the coming Eid-ul-Azha which is 15 per cent higher than the last year. They said that that the collection of rawhide may increase by 30 per cent as the general election would be... Full story
Indian authorities have frozen some of Finnish telecom giant Nokia’s assets, the company said Tuesday, amid a 20-billion rupee ($321 million) tax dispute with the New Delhi government. Tax authorities froze Nokia’s bank accounts as well as fixed assets, such as buildings, last week, forcing the... Full story
Four state-owned commercial banks have signed revised memorandums of understanding with the Bangladesh Bank in a bid to improve their financial health through mitigating the risks of fraud, said officials of the central bank. A BB official said that the SCBs had submitted the revised MoUs... Full story
Foreign investment in the Dhaka Stock Exchange declined by 45.53 per cent in September compared with the previous month due to uncertain political situation, market operators said. Net foreign investment in September stood at Tk 84.64 crore as overseas investors bought shares... Full story
Dhaka stocks inched down on Tuesday for the fourth trading session as the turnover declined further amid fears of fresh unrest on the political front after the international crimes tribunal on the day handed BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury death sentence in the case of crimes against humanity committed... Full story
United Nations human rights experts said Tuesday a giant steelmaking project by South Korean giant Posco in eastern India could displace up to 22,000 people who risked falling into abject poverty. The group, comprising eight experts, urged Posco immediately to halt construction of the plant in the Jagatsinghpur... Full story
Sena Kalyan Insurance, a general insurance company, started its operation formally on Tuesday. Finance minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the official operation of the insurance company at a function in Dhaka. Prime minister’s defence affairs adviser Tariq Ahmed... Full story
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday issued a directive to the Dhaka Stock Exchanges asking the bourse to implement the demutualisation schemes as per the Demutualisation Act. Now the bourse has to publish the demutualisation scheme on its website and in newspapers, distribute... Full story
The Taka Jadughar (currency museum), set up on the second floor of the Bangladesh Bank Training Academy, will be inaugurated on October 5. Speakers of the Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury will inaugurate the museum. Full story
The dollar fell in Asia on Tuesday as the United States lurched into its first government shutdown in 17 years due to a budget standoff. The greenback bought 98.16 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade after US lawmakers missed a midnight deadline to avert the... Full story
Oil prices eased in Asian trade Tuesday as the US government stood on the brink of a partial shutdown due to a gridlock in Congress over a new budget. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, fell 38 cents to $101.95 in... Full story