Grameen license fee: Railways incur Tk 8.25cr loss in two fiscal

UNB, Dhaka :
Bangladesh Railway has incurred a loss of over Tk 8.25 crore in two fiscal years (FY07 and FY08) for realising license fee at lower rate from Grameen Phone, a leading mobile phone operator of the country.
Although the Land Management Policy 2006 fixed license fee at Tk 335 and Tk 223 per square feet of land in divisional towns and other areas respectively, Bangladesh Railway realised license fee at the rates of Tk 16, Tk 8 and Tk 6 per sq. ft. of land in Pakshi (Pabna district) and Lalmonirhat in fiscal 2006-07 and 2007-08, causing huge loss of revenue, said sources at the Railways Ministry.
Bangladesh Railway suffered a loss of nearly Tk 6.12 crore in Pakshi and Tk 2.14 crore in Lalmonirhat in realising license fee from Grameen Phone during the two fiscal (FY07 and FY08).
According to official sources, despite instruction of the Land Management Policy 2006, then director general of Bangladesh Railway in May 2006 issued a circular asking the Estate Department of the Railway to realise license fee from Grameen Phone at the previous rates. As per the DG’s order, the Estate Department collected license fee from Grameen Phone at lower rates.
Later, when Bangladesh Railway issued a notification asking the Estate Department to realise license fee as per the Land Management Policy 2006, Grameen Phone authorities filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the new enhanced rates of license fee, and the High Court gave a stay order in this regard.
Abdur Rashid, chief of Bangladesh Railway’s estate department, told UNB that the minister’s approval is needed to relax any provision of the Land Management Policy 2006, but then director general of Bangladesh Railway did not take approval of the minister.
“The director general has no jurisdiction to relax any provision of the Land Management Policy 2006, but he issued a circular which gave way to Grameen Phone to go the High Court,” he said.
Rashid said as the High Court has given stay order on realising license fee from Grameen Phone, the estate department could not collect license fee from the mobile operator.
He said the Railway’s estate department has already requested the Railways Ministry to hold a tri-party meeting to resolve the ongoing problem so that railway can increase its revenue.
Shah M Imdadul Haque, a joint secretary of Railways Ministry, said the Bangladesh Railway not only suffered a loss of Tk 8.25 crore but also could not realise nearly Tk 32 crore in outstanding license fees from Grameen Phone after the High Court’s stay order.
He said a file has been moved to the Railways Ministry and after its approval, the ministry will hold a tri-party meeting that will include Grameen Phone and general managers of Bangladesh Railway (East and West) to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“We must overcome the crisis to raise revenue income…now we will take legal action and we may cancel our agreements with Grameen Phone,” he said, adding that Bangladesh Railway earlier signed three agreements with Grameen Phone.