February 14: The government and CG Telecom of Chaudhary Group have been trading barbs in the recent days regarding “unified” license for basic telecommunication service.
CG has maintained that the lack of cooperation from the government has denied them unified license. This, in turn, has hindered the progress of its project launched with government grant assistance depriving the general public of standard telecommunication service at affordable rates, the company said.
Meanwhile, the government has been accusing the telecommunication company of not abiding by the terms and conditions of the grant agreement reached with the government to expand telecommunication service in 534 villages of 41 districts. The government says CG is creating confusion among the general public.
During last week’s regular press meeting held to make public the decisions made by the cabinet, Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota had said that CG Telecom would be issued the license only after it pays Rs 20 billion.
CG Telecom organized a press conference immediately to counter the claims made by the government spokesperson. The company said they have fulfilled all the criteria to obtain license for providing basic telecommunications service. Managing Director of CG Telecom Nirvan Chaudhary had said during the press conference that the government’s remark regarding the payment of Rs 20 billion was misleading.
Meanwhile, Minister Baskota said on Thursday (February 13) that CG Telecom has failed to honour the initial agreement. He said that the government has given US$ 11.8 million to CG Telecom for developing telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas. He said that the government will probe into the utilization of the grant amount.
“CG needs to show us the records of grant utilization by STM Company, which it has acquired. The government had given a huge grant of US$ 11.8 million (1.35 billion) to the company in 2004/5,” said Baskota, adding, “The company needs to furnish details on where and how the amount was spent.”
Minister Baskota said that CG must be accountable after acquiring the company.
“We will study if the grant amount has been properly utilized or not,” he said.
Minister Baskota said that CG was supposed to expand telecommunication service to 534 villages of 41 districts as per the agreement and also set up 1068 PSOs. But the company has not fulfilled the terms and conditions, said the minister.
“I don’t want to trade barbs. Let me tell you clearly that the government is committed to create investment-friendly environment for all investors. But the investors need to be honest,” he said.
In a satirical tone, the minister said that the company used a window when there was a door to exit.
CG had earlier announced to invest Rs 25 billion for expanding 5G network in Nepal. CG had also signed an agreement with telecommunication giant Huawei in Barcelona on February 26, 2019 to launch 5G service in Nepal in accordance to the decision of the Council of Ministers. The company has also signed a strategic partnership deal with Turkcell of Turkey for the transfer of the latest next-generation technology.
However, Minister Baskota said that the company must first fulfill its commitments.
CG has not yet made any official remarks regarding the government grant provided for the expansion of telecommunication service.