Govt to scrap licence of telcos not clearing dues

Kathmandu, January 29

The government is preparing to scrap the licence of different telecommunication service providers that have not paid their dues to the government despite government’s repeated calls.

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) had recently revealed that different telecommunication service providers in the country have not paid dues worth Rs 2.96 billion under different headings like frequency fee, royalty fee, renewal fee and fee for Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF).

Subsequently, the Finance Committee of the Legislature Parliament had directed the government to take necessary steps to collect dues from telecommunication service providers citing that failure to collect dues from such firms will affect the government’s revenue.

Mahendra Man Gurung, secretary at Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, informed that preparations are underway to scrap the telecommunication licence of seven different service providers including Smart Telecom and Nepal Satellite Telecom, among others.

Meanwhile, NTA — the telecommunication sector regulator — is also preparing to blacklist telecommunication service providers not paying dues to the government.

“Few telecommunication firms have not approached the government to pay their dues despite repeated calls from both the NTA and government. Thus, the government should now take action against such firms,” said Gurung.

There are 153 telecommunication service providers in the country. Those telecommunication service providers that have not cleared their dues to the government include United Telecom Ltd (UTL), Smart Telecom, Nepal Satellite Telecom, Unilever Nepal Ltd, Tasi Communication Centre, I-4 Technologies, BroadLink Network and Communications, Itel Communications and Web Surfer, among others.

Smart Telecom tops the chart of service providers that have not cleared dues to the government. As per NTA, the telecom firm is yet to pay Rs 1.4 billion tax to the government under frequency fee, royalty fee and renewal fee. Similarly, UTL has not paid taxes worth Rs 795 million to the government that it should pay under the aforementioned headings.

Addressing a parliamentary committee meeting two weeks back, Minister for Communications and Information Technology GokulBaskota, had said that though the government had repeatedly asked telecommunication firms to clear their dues, the government has not been able to collect the dues due to legal hassles and ambiguity in law.

NTA has said that it will soon publish a notice blacklisting those firms that have not paid necessary dues.