No way to pay overdues
Mahfuja Mukul: Teletalk, the only state-owned mobile phone operator, started its journey with the promise of good service. Initially, the response was overwhelming. SIMs were in such demand that they were first distributed through a lottery. Low call rates put private operators under threat. That company is now plagued with various problems. The number of customers is at the bottom. Burdened with debt. The network condition is also poor. In this situation, the government has recently withdrawn from providing 5G services through Teletalk. All in all, the condition of Teletalk is now in a state of decline.
It is known that the company owes Tk 100 crore to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). And Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited or BTCL has written to Teletalk for payment of Tk 83 crore. Besides, Teletalk also owes to BTCL, Huawei, Summit, Tower Company, E-dotco and some contractors. The managing director of the company has also been transferred.
Those concerned claim that Teletalk does not have the ability to repay this loan. In order to survive, the company has to merge with other companies. Besides, the development of teletalk is not possible.
In this regard Teletalk Managing Director (MD) AKM Habibur Rahman told, ‘I have taken responsibility for a few days. I am looking into these matters. I will definitely work to restore customer trust. Former MD Sahabuddinto know about the condition of Teletalk called but he did not pick up. On August 4, he was transferred from the Department of Posts and Telecommunications.
In this regard, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Mustafa Jabbar told, “As far as we understand, Teletalk’s financial capacity is less than that of other operators.” That may be the reason why they are late in paying the debt. We have asked Teletalk to refund the money. Hope they pay the debt soon. We have no concessions in this regard. Government agencies say it is not out of control.
Mohiuddin Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Consumer Association, said that one of the reasons why Teletalk is not developing is their marketing weakness. Teletalk is in this state today due to irregularities, mismanagement and lack of proper planning. Teletalk now needs to invest heavily if it is to survive. But the government is not interested in investing in this sector. So Teletalk has to do business by merging like Airtel-Robi to survive.
He said that the amount of debt that Teletalk has, does not have the amount of assets. It is not possible to pay the debt even if everything is sold.
On the other hand, the market can be seen on the surface, teletalk SIM is not easily available. Recharge points are also very less. Network condition is also not good. Due to these reasons customers are turning away from Teletalk.
BTCL has already written to Teletalk to pay the dues. In this regard, the managing director of the company Md. Rafiqul Matin said, we will get Tk 83 crore from Teletalk. The letter has been given to them.
Meanwhile, BTRC has asked Teletalk for the first installment of Tk 100 crore. A letter was sent to the managing director of Teletalk from the finance department of BTRC on August 1.
According to the letter sent to Teletalk Bangladesh Limited from the spectrum department of BTRC, 10 percent advance income tax for the first installment of 2,600 MHz band for 2022 is 93 lakh 39 thousand 701 taka deducted at source and Tk 0.7 for VAT. A total of Tk 100 crore 75 lakhs 43 thousand 9 taka including Tk 77 crore 5 lakhs 3 thousand 308 at the rate of 5 percent is requested to be paid immediately with the applicable late fee at the rate of 15 per cent.’
A BTRC official said that Grameenphone and Robi have paid the first installment for the allocation of waves. Banglalink has taken one year as repayment terms with 15 percent for the first installment. But Teletalk has not paid yet. A letter has been sent to Teletalk for this.
According to official data, Grameenphone is at the top in mobile phone connections. Their connection number is 8 crore 75 lakh. Robi has 5 crore 19 lakh 40 thousand connections, which is the second position. On the other hand, Banglalink is in third place. Their connection number is 3 crore 62 lakh 50 thousand. The number of teletalk connections is only 56.57 lakh.
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