The telecom regulator has directed mobile operator Robi Axiata to deposit Tk 18.93 crore as value-added tax on 4G licence fee within April 25.
The country's second-largest carrier paid Tk 378.62 crore as 4G licence and spectrum fee and the National Board of Revenue has claimed the VAT against the sum.
The other two operators, Grameenphone and Banglalink, have already paid the VAT in this regard, said Md Matiur Rahman, commissioner of the Large Taxpayers Unit-VAT, the NBR field office dealing with the matter.
“So, we have no way to give any undue privilege to any specific operator. If we allow this, it will create an imbalance to the regulatory issues,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
Non-compliance with the NBR order is tantamount to violation of government order, said the BTRC in its letter to Robi on April 18.
“This is not acceptable -- legally and morally.”
The letter comes after the telecom regulator at a commission meeting earlier this month asked Robi to pay the VAT within seven days; otherwise, the operator would not be able to avail 4G-related services.
The BTRC has also decided to stop all sorts of tariff approvals and issuance of no-objection certificate for Robi. It has also warned of legal actions for failure to deposit the VAT.
Contacted yesterday, Robi declined to comment on the matter.
This is not the first time Robi has found itself on the wrong side of the NBR.
Earlier in February, the NBR's field office froze the bank accounts of Robi on allegations of dodging of Tk 18.72 crore in VAT and supplementary duty.
Robi straightaway filed a writ petition challenging the NBR's decision to freeze its bank accounts and the High Court on February 27 gave the verdict in its favour.
Later on March 1, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order for three days, leading to the freezing of Robi's bank accounts again.
The Supreme Court verdict convinced Robi to concede defeat and the operator pledged to deposit the full amount to the state coffer soon.
The LTU VAT has so far claimed nearly Tk 3,000 crore as unpaid VAT and SD from Robi.
Of the amount, claims involving more than Tk 1,500 crore are pending with courts, said Bodruzzaman Munshi, deputy commissioner of the LTU VAT.