A Bangladesh government probe committee found five top officials of Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) guilty of attempted corruption, inefficiency and failure to establish a nationwide telecom backbone network in the last ten years.

Meanwhile, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) withdraws the US$25 million aid package that it had sanctioned for the project.

The telecom division presented the probe report to the parliamentary standing committee on the telecom ministry on Wednesday.

The committee is satisfied with the report but not with the recommendations; so it has decided to revisit the report and make new recommendations, meeting attendees said.

It also formed a subcommittee headed by Kazi Firoz Rashid, a member of the standing committee, along with two other members to make the new recommendations.

“After evaluating the report at the meeting, we decided to find out the truth as it is our responsibility,” said Imran Ahmad, chairman of the committee.

This is not just a loan or failure to complete a project; the entire nation’s image is attached to it, said Ahmad. In June this year, JICA took back the loan it had allocated to establish the countrywide telecom backbone network in 2005. The nation’s first fibre-optic cable project was meant to build a transmission backbone to ensure uninterrupted internet connectivity across the country.

This is the first time that they have taken back a loan from Bangladesh, committee members said.

In a 200-page report, the probe committee found guilty Ashok Kumar Mandal, the project director; BTCL’s former managing directors Azizul Islam, Md Kalimullah and Mahfuz Uddin Ahmed and Shahabuddin Ahmed, a director. It also raised questions on the ability, honesty and efficiency of the BTCL officials.

However, the probe committee did not recommend any punishment for them. “They violated the public procurement rules. That’s why the donor lost interest and decided to take back its money,” the report said. “We will soon finalise our recommendations, which will be based on the findings of the probe committee,” said a meeting attendant, seeking anonymity.

Prior to taking back the loan, JICA wrote a letter to the senior secretary of Economic Relations Division to take a lesson from this incident and to avoid making such a mistake again in the future. It was a very humiliating letter for the entire nation, according to the standing committee members. It was after this letter that the Prime Minister’s Office directed the telecom division to run an investigation.

Although JICA allocated the loan in 2005, it became effective from July 2008, after the government fulfilled JICA’s condition of turning the-then Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board into a public limited company which 100% shares are owned by the Government of Bangladesh. BTCL is not yet listed at any stock exchanges of Bangladesh of elsewhere in the world.

Tags: , ,

Mr. Kauser Bhuiyan is a former EU diplomat and Wall-Street professional who gained nearly two decades of professional experience at Accenture, Bloomberg, European Commission and Stein & Partners. He learned professional skills in the areas of Change Management Consulting, International Financial Market, Economic Co-operation and Sustainability Advisory services in Frankfurt, Zurich, London, New York, Brussels, Islamabad and Dhaka. Mr. Bhuiyan can be reached at to[at]bangladeshinside.com
advert

Korean Export Processing Zone at serious risk

korean-epz-01

Instead of handing over the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) to the investor, the government of Bangladesh plans to take back […]

Dhaka needs to remove its rocky anti-FDI atmosphere

Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Yun-young

Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Mr. Lee Yun-young has said Bangladesh should come out from protectionism and open up its market […]

‘Welfare Associations’ to negotiate for rights at Bangladesh EPZ

The Government of Bangladesh today approved, in principle, draft of a labour law for Export Processing Zones (EPZ) with the provision […]

Return of GSP seems far off – a lot more must be done

Bangladesh’s progress in implementation of the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity (the Action Plan) which provides a […]

Bangladesh halts shutdown of “unsafe” factories

The Bangladeshi government is refusing to shut down garment factories declared unsafe, following a row with independent inspectors over the […]

Yawning gap between pledges and delivery to Rana Plaza victims

Many Rana Plaza victims are yet to receive the promised compensation from the government and retailers, nine months after the […]