Vol. 5 Num 750 Fri. July 07, 2006  
Front Page

PMO rejects costly Navy boat purchase

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday rejected Bangladesh Navy's bid to procure six high-speed patrol boats at a high cost and asked it to re-tender the procurement, sources said.

The Armed Forces Division earlier sought the prime minister's clearance to procure these boats at a cost of Tk 14.5 crore. It procured six similar boats in 2005 for only Tk 9 crore. There were allegations of bid manipulation in the current procurement process.

Bangladesh Navy recently floated a tender seeking boats measuring between 10 to 12 metres, with air-conditioned cabins and light machine gun (LMG) posts, global positioning system, radar and other sophisticated equipment to help the Navy conduct anti-smuggling operations in the deep sea.

During the tender, the Navy picked up the bid of one Labanu that quoted higher price for the boats manufactured in Portugal. The Navy rejected other bids including the one submitted by the same company that sold it six boats for Tk 9 crore last year.

The Labanu was enlisted with the Directorate General Defence Purchase (DGDP) on February 26. The tender for the boats purchase was set to be floated on February 25, but the DGDP deferred the schedule in the last minute and set March 5 as the revised schedule for the tender, apparently to accommodate Labanu's participation.

Following the arbitrary selection, the comptroller general of audit in mid-June raised objection to this procurement and asked the DGDP why the Bangladesh Navy should purchase the six boats at Tk 14.5 crore when it purchased the same for Tk 9 crore last year. The DGDP sought clarifications from the Navy.

A news report published in The Daily Star then prompted the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence to ask the Navy to clarify its position. Naval high officials told the parliamentary committee members that the boats to be procured from the Labanu were bigger and better, and so a bit more costlier.

As the Navy upheld its decision, the Armed Forces Division late last month sought the PMO's clearance that the PMO rejected yesterday.

Meanwhile, sources said the Portuguese boats are not in operation anywhere and their suggested specifications are below the standard of Navy's requirements.