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NBR, BTRC at loggerheads over Robi VAT

The telecom operator has already paid Tk 70 crore through bank guarantee
Hamimur Rahman Waliullah
20 Jun 2023 23:54:10 | Update: 21 Jun 2023 01:34:37
NBR, BTRC at loggerheads over Robi VAT

Two government agencies – Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and National Board of Revenue (NBR) – are at odds over value-added tax (VAT) paid by Robi Axiata Ltd through bank guarantee.

Robi Axiata Ltd and Airtel Bangladesh merged in 2017. At that time, Robi gave a conditional bank guarantee of Tk 471 crore to BTRC as the merger fee and the bank guarantee also included VAT of Tk 70.65 crore payable to NBR, according to sources.

The Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) was OBL/GB/BG/1872017 of One Bank Ltd, which was issued on April 30, 2017, they confirmed.

BTRC sent three letters on August 13, September 20 and October 11, 2020 to One Bank's Gulshan Branch. As the two conditions of the guarantee were not fulfilled, it was not possible for them to encash the cheque. Then the bank informed BTRC about the matter, according to a recent letter sent to the BTRC chairman by VAT commissioner, Large Taxpayers Unit.

It is learnt that both the conditions have been fulfilled now. The first condition has been met as VAT has been paid as per VAT challan 11 by Grameenphone Ltd and Banglalink Digital Communication Ltd against spectrum 2G and 3G fees, the letter reads.

Besides, the second condition has been fulfilled as the verdict on Civil Petition No 1936/2012 was delivered on January 10 this year by Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

However, BTRC has not yet paid Tk 70.65 crore of the gross amount of deduction at source VAT applicable against the merger fees to NBR even after two conditions have been fulfilled, sources say.

In the letter, LTU VAT commissioner called for payment of Tk 70 crore due in the last phase of the fiscal year 2022-23.

NBR sources said that VAT was due for a long time as it was under a conditional bank guarantee. As a government agency, BTRC should show collaborative mindset, they added.

It is not advisable to go through the process of collecting the money by sending them a letter after depositing the money. But NBR had to follow the due process as they got no response from them even after discussions and assurances, they said.