UTL tells PAC it will pay 50% of royalties; NTA remains belligerent

20 Sep 2011

The Himalayan Times writes that Nepalese privately-owned telecoms operator United Telecom Limited (UTL) has agreed to pay up 50% of its outstanding royalties to the regulator, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). The paper says that in an appearance before a sub-committee of the country’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a spokesperson for UTL said the firm was looking to resolve the ongoing dispute over outstanding fees, and is hopeful that the government will now look to kick-start a process of negotiation so both sides can reach agreement on a ‘reasonable’ royalty. Despite the olive branch being offered, the NTA remains adamant that it requires payment in full and has reiterated its threat to cancel the telco’s licence if it fails to pay up in full. Its chairman, Bhesh Raj Kanel, is quoted as saying: ‘UTL is left with no options but to pay royalty dues or to get stay order from the court to operate its service.’ The NTA official says he is not able to consider the telco’s appeal given that the Appellate Committee – under the Ministry of Information and Communications – rejected its appeal to waive outstanding royalty worth NPR896 million (USD11.9 million), last Friday.