Claiming that the 3G mobile auction held on Sunday was virtually competition free, a rights group has demanded full disclosure of its process and a parliamentary debate on it.
In a statement on Monday, EquityBD (Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh) condemned the approach of multinational mobile phone companies who syndicate and pressurize the government to make the auction competition free.
It also questioned whether the whole process was surrender to the ‘multinational syndicate or a planned game’.
EquityBD chief moderator Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said these multinational companies pressurized the government in the last few months and succeeded to reduce the VAT rate from 15 percent to 5 percent and withdraw the condition of participation of other foreign companies in the auction process.
“It’s a matter of shame for this multinationals and their origin countries (Grameen/ Telenor - Norway, Banglalink/Orascom - Egypt, Robi/Singtel-Singapore, and Airtel-India), he said adding that this is a double standard implementation of WTO principles on open and free competition.
Barkat Ullah Maruf, policy research coordinator of EquityBD, said 3G mobile auction in India took 34 days to settle, and foreign companies have participated in a fierce competition helping the Indian government earn US$ 11 billion against the expectation of US$ 7.5 billion.
In comparison to this, he said, in Bangladesh it took only an hour for the entire auction process to complete without any competition. The government earned only US$ 515 million where the expectation was at least US$ 800 millions according to the base price.
Four private mobile phone operators -- Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Airtel-- won licenses for the third generation (3G) cellular mobile phone services at an auction conducted by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Sunday.