Telecom service providers yet to pay dues worth Rs 3 billion

Kathmandu, January 18

Different telecommunication service providers in the country have not paid dues worth Rs 2.96 billion to the government, the Nepal

Telecommunications Authority (NTA) — telecom sector regulator — revealed today.

Addressing the Finance Committee meeting of the Legislature-Parliament today, Purshottam Khanal, acting chairman of NTA, informed that different telecommunication services providers have not paid the aforementioned amount under different headings like frequency fee, royalty fee, renewal fee and fee for Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF).

There are 153 telecommunication service providers in the country. Those telecommunication service providers who 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 the Finance Committee meeting, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota, informed that though the government had repeatedly asked the aforementioned firms to clear their dues, the government has not been able to collect the dues due to legal hassles and ambiguity in law.

“We often ask telecom firms to clear their dues and then they knock on the doors of the Supreme Court. The apex court then gives a verdict in their favour and the due collection process from telecommunication firms gets halted,” said Baskota, adding that reforming existing telecommunication-related policies is crucial to ensure that the government is able to collect dues from the telecommunication firms.

Minister Baskota also threatened to scrap the contract of those telecommunication firms that have been delaying the construction process of optical fibre network, which the government has assigned them.

Meanwhile, lawmakers at the Finance Committee said that the government cannot escape from the responsibility of collecting necessary taxes from telecommunication service providers citing policy ambiguity. “If necessary, policies have to be amended. But the government should collect relevant taxes from the service providers,” said lawmakers.