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Thursday, December 8, 2022

NEW RULE ON TELECOM SERVICES FAVOURS FOREIGN ENTITIES

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has invited companies willing to offer telecommunication value added services (TVAS) to apply for registration.

The invitation notice, signed by BTRC director (Licensing) MA Taleb Hossain, also asked mobile phone operators to get certification for providing TVAS.

Any Bangladeshi entity holding a valid trade licence is eligible to apply for TVAS registration.

However, the Bangladeshi entity may have Non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) or a foreign entity as a partner. A consortium of NRBs or a foreign entity without a Bangladeshi partner would not be registered. In case of a consortium, the entity shall have to set up a company as per Bangladeshi law to receive the certificate.

The commission, however, gave priority to foreign companies. The invitation notice said that in case a foreign entity applied along with a Bangladeshi partner, the foreign equity would be limited to maximum 70 per cent. BTRC may increase the equity for a reputed foreign partner, if required, it added.

The foreign partner will have to invest in foreign currency directly equal to his percentage of ownership. Moreover, no loan from any Bangladeshi scheduled bank, financial institution or leasing company could be raised for the foreign part of the investment.

In case an NRB applied along with a Bangladeshi partner, there would be no limit on the percentage of foreign equity. The NRB shall directly invest in foreign currency. No loan from any Bangladeshi scheduled bank, financial institution or leasing company could be raised for his part of the investment.

As per the conditions of the Cellular Mobile Phone Operator (CMPO) licence, CMPOs are eligible for providing TVAS. After the issue of this guideline, they will also be entitled as “CMPO-TVAS” and would be allowed to provide TVAS within their own network area only after getting a “CMPO- TVAS” registration certificate from BTRC.

The commission has finalised the guideline on TVAS by setting the ratio of revenue sharing between mobile phone operators and VAS providers at 40:60.

The guideline titled “Regulatory Guidelines for Issuance of Registration Certificate for Providing Telecommunication Value Added Services in Bangladesh” was issued by the BTRC director.

In its draft guideline issued on December 31, the BTRC had allowed a foreign equity to have a maximum of 49 per cent share. However, the final guideline gave priority to foreign companies.

Local entrepreneurs said it was unfortunate that foreign entities were being favoured at the expense of domestic companies.

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