Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | ePaper

Ensure fair bidding before awarding contract to anyone

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THE government is set to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today to form a joint venture between the State-run Power Development Board and US firm General Electric to build and operate a 3,000MW power plant without any tender. The joint venture will also build infrastructures to facilitate gas supplies to the power plant for liquefied natural gas, said Power Board officials, adding that the cost of the project on Moheshkhali Island in Cox's Bazar was estimated at $3 billion, as per a report of a local daily.
With this, the government has cleared way for big investments of about $6 billion from two multinational companies at the fag end of its second consecutive tenure. On November 5, 2017, State-run North-West Power Generation Company signed a Memorandum with German firm Siemens AG to build and operate a 3,600MW LNG-based power plant near 1,320MW coal-fired power plant at Payra in Patuakhali. Both the projects will be implemented under the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provisions) Act 2010 that indemnified officials concerned against prosecution for awarding contracts without tender.
The experts recommended fair bidding process in the sector to ensure transparency and to obtain the best services at the lowest prices. They also said that the use of the Speedy Supply Act had already created controversies in the sector. On March 29, the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry decided to seek further extension of the Act for three more years until 2021 after its expiry on October 11, 2018.
While the creation of big plants to generate electricity will be far better than simply relying on the quick fix of the old diesel and furnace oil plants, the fact remains that electricity prices have been increased eight times since the government came to power in 2009. Not only are we paying almost double the rates of 2010, we are also subsiding Power Development Board for almost 3600 crores in losses it is estimated to incur in 2018. While electricity is a lifeblood for the nation, it is also unacceptable that people are paying 100 percent more in just 8 years -- especially when the incomes of people may not have increased that much.
The least the government can do is to ensure that these mega projects without any tender would reduce the electricity costs. If not, than ensure fair bidding before awarding contract to anyone.

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