Vol. 5 Num 618 Thu. February 23, 2006  
Front Page

Govt to purchase 16 fighters for $93.6m

The government will purchase 16 fighter aircraft from China for $93.6 million, Water Resources Minister Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, in charge of the defence ministry in the parliamentary affairs, informed the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday.

"An agreement was signed in the FY 2004-05 for purchasing the fighter planes from China," Hafiz Uddin said replying to a question of Jatiya Party lawmaker GM Quader. "Each plane will cost $5.85 million," he said.

Hafiz Uddin said purchase of fighter aircraft for the air force is a continuous process. The minister, however, did not elaborate the purchasing process.

The lawmaker concerned did not have scope to raise any supplementary question on the topic as the question-answer session was not held yesterday. The written questions and their replies were distributed.

The previous Awami League (AL) government purchased eight Mig-29 fighter planes from Russia at $123.98 million that raised widespread controversy.

Major (retd) Aktharuzzaman, lawmaker of the then main opposition BNP and also a member of the parliamentary standing committee on defence ministry, had instituted a suit in the High Court against the purchase.

The allegations made were: The aircraft were old and hence there had been a misuse of public funds, an advance payment had been made in violation of the terms of the agreement and the purchase process lacked transparency.

Following the suit, the High Court issued a rule nisi on the government and asked it to explain why the purchase agreement should not be declared illegal. Later, it decided that the parliamentary committee should not be prevented from examining the issue and the rule was vacated.

After coming to power, the present government filed corruption cases against the then prime minister, Sheikh Hasina and others, regarding the purchase of the planes.