GP to help Bangladesh ’embark on digital era’, says Sigve Brekke

Disputes on VAT, audit and 3G guidelines should be settled amicably

Sigve Brekke

Mohammad Ali

Grameenphone (GP), country’s largest telecom operator, is preparing itself to spur the growth of digital future in Bangladesh, its Chairman Sigve Brekke said.

“We are preparing ourselves for the digital future. Providing voice services is now being focused. The next generation in our business is going to be digital for data. When the 3G era begins in Bangladesh, you will see an explosion of data services,” Mr Brekke said while talking to a group of selected reporters at a city hotel recently.

“Because of this, we have created a separate unit in Telenor in the digital services for only how to prepare ourselves for the digital future, which is very much attuned to the Digital Vision that Bangladesh government has,” said the GP chairman.

GPIT company, IT group of GP, will provide (in sourcing) services not only to GP but also to other companies of Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor in Asia, he added.

Newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the operator Vivek Sood was present at that time.

Mentioning that growth of telecom companies of Telenor in Europe is over; there is no more growth in the top line except data services, Mr Brekke said, “Telenor is now more and more focusing on our investment in Asia.”

Telenor has over 20 million customers in the five countries–Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh — in Asia, he continued.

In a query, he said Telenor wanted to begin business in Myanmar; it formally expressed its interest in this connection.

Referring to his meeting with the Finance Minister, BTRC Chairman and Telecom Ministry Secretary last week, Mr Brekke said, “My main message to them was that before going to the 3G auction, we need to sort out some of the issues such the disputes on the VAT, audit and 3G guidelines that are concerning us”.

“I urged them to try to find solutions before the 3G auction, he said, adding that “Otherwise, it will be challenging for us to participate in the 3G auction, because we need to look at the way how we will invest our money and we need predictability on the future.”

When asked about the reasons of urging the government on the VAT issue as it is now pending in the apex court for final decision, he said their discussion was held following an inter-ministerial meeting of July 2012 over the issues.

“We want to resolve the issues through discussion before the 3G auction,” he added.

Discussion with the high officials of the government is going on the investment and future of 3G, implementation of which is a challenging matter, he said.

For 3G services, the GP chairman also mentioned the necessity of having wide internet connection, smart phones and customers’ affordability to buy those phone-sets.

Tax on the SIM card is a barrier to flourish the telecom sector, he said, adding that there are also some complexities in the selling process of the SIM cards.

Source: Financial Express

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