Rejoinder, our reply [ Business ] 20/03/2017
Rejoinder, our reply
Robi issued a rejoinder against a report headlined 'Robi yet to comply with all merger conditions' published in The Daily Star on February 23.

In the rejoinder the operator said there has been no communication from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission that suggested that “Robi has not fulfilled all the conditions” placed by the regulatory body for its merger with Airtel.

Nowhere in the letter from the BTRC did it mention that Robi is in breach of the merger conditions, the rejoinder said.

“BTRC wasn't satisfied as, it says, that we haven't provided adequate or sufficient information/documents. However, that doesn't mean that we are in breach of the merger.”

There has also been no notification from the telecom regulator that forbade the two operators from commencing their network integration work, according to the rejoinder.

“The BTRC letter issued to Robi on 12 February 2017 does not anywhere mention that our ongoing network integration has violated the merger conditions.”

Robi said there was no condition in the approval letter it had received from the BTRC on October 26 last year that stated that joint operation of the two companies cannot start before the receipt of the Order of Merger licence.

“In the four corners of the telecom regulations, there is no requirement that we have to have Order of Merger Licence. BTRC simply has stated that after receipt of all documents it will issue the Order of Merger of Licence.”

Robi also disagreed with the report on the issue of merger fees and spectrum charges.

The operator said it is willing to pay the value-added and advance income taxes as soon as the BTRC is in a position to issue “an appropriate VAT receipt certificate”.

OUR REPLY

The Daily Star has prepared the report based on the copy of the BTRC letter sent to Robi on February 12, where it pointed out the five conditions that the merged company has yet to fulfil.

The BTRC directed Robi to comply with all the conditions within 10 days; otherwise, the operator will face legal action.

The conditions mentioned in the letter are: 1. Robi has to pay Tk 427.35 crore as merger fees and other charges to the BTRC.

Of the sum, the operator has so far paid Tk 318.52 crore, on November 20 2016. The BTRC is yet to receive the remaining Tk 108.83 crore from the operator.

2. BTRC directed Robi to return 5 Megahertz spectrum from the EGSM band, which the operator is yet to do so.

3. Both Robi and Airtel had to clear all the dues to the government or any other entities, if any, before the merger. The two operators have not updated the BTRC on this matter.

4. The merged entity did not share any information on Airtel's employees already absorbed by Robi.

5. Information on ensuring Voluntary Separation Scheme/ Voluntary Retirement Scheme of Airtel employees who would not join Robi are also missing.

“After fulfilment of the conditions imposed by the government or the commission and receiving all the documents, the final 'Order of Merger of Licence' will be issued and this will complete the merger procedure,” the BTRC letter said.

This is also mentioned in the final approval letter for the merger that the BTRC issued on October 26 last year, a copy of which The Daily Star has obtained.

Besides, The Daily Star contacted Robi over telephone and email for its comments on the BTRC letter but got no response.

On February 18 the correspondent called in to Robi's headquarters but its officials declined to provide any comment on the matter.

But after the report was published Robi contacted The Daily Star and a meeting was held last week.

Robi furnished a copy of its response to the BTRC letter it had sent on February 14.

Of the five conditions Robi has complied with three of them, The Daily Star deduced from the operator's letter.

Robi provided information on the status of the Airtel employees. It provided the number that were absorbed into the newly merged company and the number that were given voluntary separation/ retirement.

The operator in the letter informed the BTRC that it has no amount “outstanding to any individual or entities outside the course of the business”.

About the merger fees and spectrum charges and 'Order of Merger of License' issues, Robi is yet to comply with the regulator's conditions -- and the BTRC is also not accepting the operator's arguments.
 
 
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