Thursday , 16 August 2018

Robi evades Tk 926cr in VAT, NBR claims

Tahmeed Taha

NBR has claimed that Mobile operator Robi Axiata Ltd has evaded Tk 926 crore in value-added tax (VAT) on interconnection charge, VAT on merger fees, spectrum charge and Withholding VAT and VAT at source during the period from January 2012 to December 2016. According to the demand notices sent by the Large-Taxpayers Unit for Value-added Tax (LTU-VAT) of National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Tuesday, Robi owes Tk 5.22 crore in VAT on interconnection charge, Tk 91.05 crore on merge fee and spectrum charge and Tk 711.82 crore on withholding VAT and VAT at source. Robi Axiata, however, claimed that it did not evade any VAT, but a dispute has arisen on this issue due to NBR’s ‘misconception’ on some accounting calculations. Executive vice president, regulatory affairs and company secretary of Robi Axiata Ltd Shahed Alam said, “We have been facing discriminatory attitude from the VAT officials, which we believe is ill-motivated.” Mentioning that Robi doesn’t have any intention to bring this issue to the higher court, Shahed Alam said, “As one of the largest private mobile operators in Bangladesh, we want to run our business smoothly.”
LTU-VAT Commissioner Md Matiur Rahman claimed they always give the companies enough space after issuing the demand notice for any due VAT.The operator didn’t pay the VAT on Robi-Airtel merger fees and spectrum charge. They, however, submitted a bank grantee to BTRC though the telecom regulator is not the right place for that, he added.
According to the final demand notices, Robi did not pay Tk 5.22 crore in VAT on the interconnection charge between Robi and BTCL occurred from January 2012 to December 2016.
The operator was also subject to pay Tk 711.82 crore in VAT at source. Robi also did not pay Tk 91 crore in VAT on the merger fees and the spectrum renewal charges for 2G licence.
The mobile operator also received VAT rebate worth Tk 116.40 crore on import of battery, cable, printed boards, router and switch though such imports are not eligible for any tax rebate, NBR claimed.But Robi’s Company Secretary Shahed Alam alleged that NBR doesn’t give enough time to reply to their show cause notice. “They sent the first demand notice three weeks after the show cause notice was issued. They issued five notices but there were four issues only,” he said.
He claimed that state-run BTCL did not provide the VAT chalan to Robi that caused the non-payment of interconnection charge. “The LTU VAT should take action against BTCL for this,” he said.“VAT on merger fee or VAT on any regulatory fees is still a sub judice matter,” Shahed Alam said, adding, “It is unfortunate that NBR is not taking action to uphold the rule of law. Instead, it is perusing a particular operator.”
A high official of the LTU said the VAT authorities never conducted such an intensive audit on the VAT files of the operator. This time the LTU carried out the audit to determine the liability of the company after it acquired Airtel.An official said, NBR usually does not examine the internal financial system of a company, but LTU did that during the audit on Robi, reported

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