Vol. 5 Num 243 Sun. January 30, 2005  

Govt bodies deny Khulna Shipyard work orders
Navy seeks prime minister's intervention

In an apparent move to prove the decision to hand over Khulna Shipyard management to Bangladesh Navy wrong, government bodies are not awarding work orders to the shipyard, according to a report prepared by Navy.

The report, prepared for Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Defence, said Khulna Shipyard received orders for building only nine vessels from the military and 12 from the civil departments in the last six years.

During the same period, the shipyard repaired 110 military vessels and 18 civil vessels, it said pointing to unwillingness of the government-run organisations to award work orders to the Navy-run Khulna Shipyard.

Bangladesh Navy has sought prime minister's intervention to instruct government organisations to award work orders to the Khulna Shipyard to keep it fully functional.

The management of the shipyard was handed over to Bangladesh Navy in the wake of losses that were taking toll on the economy.

The resources at the shipyard remain unutilised due to non-cooperation of the government organisations, sources said quoting the Navy report.

Basing on the report, the parliamentary body will take decision whether it will request the prime minister to issue a special instruction in favour of the shipyard in line with the Navy's requirement, sources said.

The Khulna Shipyard, one of the state run industries that builds and repairs water vessels, is also seeking vat and tax exemption on importing raw materials for water vessels. The authorities do not get any financial benefit from the government though the Navy gave Tk 61.46 crore to the then shipyard authorities during its hand-over in 1997.

The Navy having taken responsibilities, the shipyard is now making profit, the report said.

The report from the Navy headquarters underscored the necessity of prime minister's special instructions in order to oblige government organisations to provide the shipyard with work orders without tenders.

Navy communicated with the government organisations concerned but they refused to provide the shipyard with works of repairing and building of water vessels for some 'special causes', said the report. However it did not explain the 'special causes'.

When contacted, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee Mahbubur Rahman, who is a former army chief, said the special causes may include the deprivation of financial benefits for the government officials that make them disinterested in providing the shipyard with repairing or building tasks.

"They (the government officials) will not get chance of making money if they provide the shipyard with the tasks," Mahbub told The Daily Star.

He said the committee in its meeting on January 30 will ask the Navy to specify reasons on why government organisations do not provide the shipyard with work orders.

The report also said, a previous instruction of the prime minister which makes it mandatory for the government owned ships to be sent to the state-owned shipyard for repair works continues to remain unheeded.

"Due to scarcity of work the shipyard is confined to repairing Navy ships only," the report said.

It said if the shipyard is given work of BIWTC, railway, Mongla Port, Chittagong Port, Forest Department, sugar mills, road and highways and Water Development Board, it will be able to extend its area of operation and help government save a huge amount of money.

The resources of the shipyard were utilised properly in the last FY2002-2003 when it built two tag-boats for the navy, said the report adding that it built one mooring boat for the Mongla Port and repaired the ro-ro ferry Shah Mokhdum.