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State-owned telecom entities to be privatised

Published : 06 Feb 2024 10:18 PM
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The government does not want to invest in any institution that incurs losses due to mismanagement and irregularities. 

For this reason, three struggling state-owned telecommunication entities are going to privatize soon. 

The three state-owned companies, Teletalk, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL), and Telephone Shilpa Sangstha Limited (TSSL) are incurring years of financial losses attributed to mismanagement and irregularities within the organizations.

According to information, the state minister has sought all these state-owned companies' valuation. However, both local and foreign investment will be attracted to these companies. 

State Minister for Posts, Telecommunications, and Information Technology, Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, “Teletalk, BTCL and TSSL - these three companies need to be valued. I have instructed the secretary of the ministry to raise this matter in the next board meeting. We want to attract local investment on the one hand to turn these companies into profitable companies, as well as foreign investment.” 

According to information, TSSL has faced a series of setbacks, including failed partnerships with Siemens and Samsung, leading to financial decline. However, both the brands were gone due to mismanagement and commission trading by TSSL, even the state minister falling victim to fraud during a visit to TSSL.

The State Minister said, “Lack of monitoring and accountability within TSSL is responsible for its declining profits. When their earnings started to decline, the company started to finish its FDR.”

Teletalk became popular by offering affordable packages and became the first operator in the country to introduce 3G and 5G services. 

However, recent financial reports of Teletalk reveal a significant loss of Tk 247 crore in the fiscal year 2022-23. Over the past two decades, Teletalk has incurred losses amounting to Tk 1,337 crore, failing to capitalize on opportunities, and maintain profitability.

Similarly, BTCL has experienced losses for 15 consecutive years until FY 2022-23. The audit report indicates a total expenditure of around Tk 888 crore and a loss of Tk 146 crore in the most recent fiscal year. The company currently faces a debt of Tk 2,150 crore to customers that may not be recoverable. 

Earlier, the state minister had set a deadline of June 30 for Teletalk, BTCL, and TSSL to return to profitability, warning of the consequences if they fail to meet this target.

Mohiuddin Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Consumers’ Association told Bangladesh Post, “These three companies are already registered as private limited companies as per the company act 1994. They have to be held accountable for why they had invested in wrong places without proper analysis. At the same time, the main culprits of these entities must be unveiled.”