Dhaka, 22 September 2022: Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has taken note of the undated press release titled, “Rebuttal of the statement by Transparency International Bangladesh about Russia-Bangladesh gas exploration and grain deals” issued by the Russian Embassy in Dhaka covered by today’s local media. TIB appreciates that the embassy appears to have given importance to the concerns raised on the two deals.
However, the embassy’s effort to relate TIB’s concerns with Russian rivalry with Western powers is absolutely unwarranted and self-defeating. TIB’s Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said, “TIB has nothing against any country as the source of supply of any product like wheat for Bangladesh or any other business deals including gas exploration. What matters for TIB is its efforts to contribute to Bangladesh government’s commitment to ensure the due process, value for money, and above all, transparency and accountability in such deals.”
Dr. Iftekharuzzaman further added, “TIB is also disappointed, though not surprised, that the embassy fails to realize that the Russian government's persecution of TI Russia as a ‘foreign agent’ is the last thing that they can be proud of. It is well known that TI Russia has been victimized by the Russian government because of the chapter's credible work against corruption in Russia, particularly on kleptocratic state capture in the country. It should be also added that TI is not the only NGO or CSO that has been targeted and persecuted by the regime in Russia.”
The reasoning behind TIB’s concerns on the two deals has been sufficiently clarified by its two successive statements, which have been widely reported for public attention by the media and are available on TIB’s website. It can be added that the statement issued by the Russian Embassy has caused further confusion surrounding the grain deal. The Russian claim of the National Electric LLC, being the agent of the Russian exporter, didn’t take part in the decision-making process directly contradicts the response of the concerned government official who had been quoted to have mentioned that the so-called local agent took part in the final negotiation meeting and helped in reaching a deal. The statement didn’t provide an acceptable rationale for calculating the landing cost of USD 100 per ton, and how such a high rate ensures value for money for a deal of 500,000 tons. Moreover, the claim that `the cost of importing wheat on G-to-G basis is less than through open tendering method` is not tenable given that even under the G-to-G method there is an obligation to ensure that the price is compatible with the prevailing competitive rate in the global market which was lower and has been showing a further downward trend.
In relation to gas exploration, the attempted comparison with US companies is also not relevant. TIB reached its conclusion considering the projected cost of gas exploration by BAPEX in comparison to the cost of awarding the contract to Gazprom. The Embassy could have done better to its cause if it explained why the cost of Gazprom under the deal was three times higher than that of BAPEX, the statement said.
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