Telecom giant Telenor Pakistan announced on Wednesday that it has offered to pay $224.6 million to the government "under protest" for licence renewal purposes.
The licences, which Telenor and Jazz had acquired in 2004 through an auction at a cost of $291m or approximately Rs17 billion then, expired over two months ago on May 25. The government had demanded a sum of $450m apiece by August 21 from both companies in order for them to renew their licences. The figure apparently has been calculated using the spectrum auctions that took place in 2016 and 2017 as a benchmark.
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In a press statement issued today, Telenor Pakistan said that the renewal of its licence was delayed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and "faces further delays due to unfair demands on pricing and rollout obligations". The company cautioned that legal and financial hurdles created by the authorities "may significantly distort the competitive landscape" of the telecommunication industry in Pakistan.
"Telenor Pakistan has been very keen towards timely renewal of its telecom licence and, in the past two years, tried its utmost towards a fair and transparent outcome," the statement said.
The company emphasised that it had made the offer "to safeguard the interests of its valued customers" and added that it would continue to "pursue its legal case to fully protect its rights available under law".
"The company remains hopeful of a fair outcome and looks forward to the government and PTA to fulfil its commitment to ensure fair competition and forward-looking policies and regulations," the statement concluded.