NGO News Desk (Dhaka, 9th September 2013) :: Today EquityBD (Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh) a national network of civil society rights groups has given a statement expressing concern on 3G mobile auction conducted by BTRC (Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission) yesterday. They demand a full disclosure from BTRC and a parliamentary debate in this regard. They have also condemned the approach of multinational mobile phone companies who syndicate and pressurize government to make the auction competition free. In fact, this is how the government loses a huge amount of revenue. EquityBD has also questioned that whether the whole process was surrender to the multinational syndicate or a planned game.
EquityBD’s Chief Moderator Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that in last few months, these multinational companies pressurized government and succeeded to reduce the VAT rate from 15% to 5% and also succeeded to withdraw the condition of participation of other foreign companies in the auction process. It is a matter of shame for this multinationals and their origin countries (e.g., Grameen / Telenor – Norway, Bangllink / Orascom – Egypt, Robi/Singtel-Singapore, and Airtel-India). He also said that this is double standard implementation of WTO principles on open and free competition.
Ahsanul Karim of the Tax Justice Campaign Coordinator of EquityBD said that, we have in doubt whether this companies is paying properly all the VAT that they are earning from the callers. It is ironical that a small local company producing batteries is the highest VAT payer to the government exchequer instead of the Telcos and other MNCs. He also said that NBR (National Board of Revenue) must explain in public that how they are monitoring VAT collection and payment of this multinationals.
Barkat Ullah Maruf, the Policy Research Coordinator of EquityBD mentioned that while 3G mobile auction in India took 34 days to settle and foreign companies has participated with a fierce competition and government earned $11 billions upon the expectation of $7.5 billions. In comparison to this in Bangladesh it took only an hour for the entire auction process is done without any sort of competition. The government earned only $515 millions where the expectation was at least $800 millions according to the base price.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda, Mobilization and Networking Coordinator mentioned, to create a level playing field government hardly given attention to the public company Teletelk to develop, the company should be made public private partnership.