Monday, April 1, 2019

Bar Telecos with dues from adding services, facilities and increasing capital

Parliamentary Finance Committee directed the telecom regulator to bar telecos from adding services, facilities and increasing capital until they clear their dues.
The committee has asked the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) to recover Rs 2.96 billion dues from different telecommunication companies. After the committee's diktat, the regulator had issued a notice on February 11 giving telecommunication companies one-month deadline to clear their dues. The deadline has already expired on March 10.   But the telcos asked the regulator to extend the deadline till mid-July – instead of paying the dues – saying that they need more time to induct more shareholders and investors to pay their dues.
The outstanding dues include taxes and fees like income tax, value added tax, frequency fee, renewal fee and compulsory contribution to Rural Telecommunication Development Fund, according to NTA.
Smart Telecom owes the highest at Rs 1.4 billion, whereas United Telecom Limited (UTL) and Nepal Satellite Telecom Pvt Ltd owe the government Rs 794 million and Rs 735 million, respectively, according to the regulator, that has decided to extend the deadline till mid-July as requested by some telecom companies. Though some companies has not yet responded to NTA's ultimatum, mid-July is the final deadline extension for them to clear dues, claimed the regulator.
The UTL is increasing paid-up capital to clear the dues, while Smart Telecom is planning to clear dues after bringing new investors. Likewise, Nepal Satellite Telecom is planning to clear dues in installments, after the regulator's letter.
The parliamentary Finance Committee had earlier instructed the Finance Ministry and Communication Ministry to recover the dues from different telecom companies. The committee had also instructed the NTA to start the process of scrapping operating licenses of the telecos that failed to clear dues within the deadline.
Meanwhile, the committee concluded that there are serious flaws in tax assessment systems, after studying tax compliance by telecom companies. "While studying ownership transfer of Ncell, the committee had asked all ministries concerned to submit details of shares transfer of Ncell and Spice Nepal, all minutes of decisions, and the list of officials of Finance Ministry, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), Inland Revenue Department (IRD), Large Taxpayers Office (LTO), who took decisions on assessment of CGT in Ncell buyout.
Chairperson of the Finance Committee Krishna Prasad Dahal said that government agencies cannot violate instructions given by the parliamentary committee. 

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