Privately owned GSM provider Spice Nepal Private (Ncell) has paid the second instalment of its licence renewal fee despite ongoing confusion over the payment schedule, eKantipur news reports. The operator, majority owned by TeliaSonera, stumped up NPR2.5 billion (USD26.6 million), as per the demand of national industry watchdog Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA). It is understood the regulator also issued demands for payment to Nepal Telecom (NT) and royalty fees from United Telecom Limited (UTL), but they claim to have already cleared their dues for this year. Adding to the confusion, Ncell corporate communication director Sanju Koirala says that the company has been asked to pay twice within the same fiscal year. ‘The NTA asked for the fee twice this year. We have now paid a total of NPR5 billion in licence renewal charge,’ he said, even though the fee is payable only once a year.
In response, an NTA official claimed that the regulator demanded the payment from the operators as per the governmental decision. ‘The government has decided to get the first instalment at the beginning of the fiscal year and the remaining amount by the end,’ said NTA director Anandraj Khanal.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that in January this year Nepal Telecom (NT) joined its rival Ncell in making its first instalment payment on its licence renewal fee. NT should have renewed its licence two years earlier, but has been heel-dragging on making any payment, saying it would only clear the fee after the private operator did so. At the time NT chairman Surya Silwal told reporters: ‘The board meeting of NT … decided to pay the renewal fee in instalments. NT too will pay the first instalment of the renewal fee within a week.’ The telco has paid NPR2.5 billion as the first payment and will pay the remaining NPR17.5 billion on annual payment basis. UTL renewed its own operating licence in 4Q12, paying NPT204.18 million as the first instalment.