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Thursday, November 29, 2012
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2 more years for fast-track energy deal

The Jatiya Sangsad yesterday passed a bill amending a law to allow the government to exercise for two more years the controversial authority to take up and implement any projects for quick generation, distribution and marketing of power and gas.

The Power and Energy Fast Supply Enhancement (Special Provision) Act made in 2010 allowed the government two years to quickly award energy sector contracts on the basis of unsolicited negotiation by precluding the court's jurisdiction to review actions taken under this law.

After the amendment, the government will be able to exercise this sweeping authority for two more years.

The law has empowered the government to avoid compliance with the Public Procurement Act, 2006, which was introduced to ensure transparency in government procurement.

It also allows authorities to quickly publish tender notices in newspapers and websites, make correspondences and negotiations with bidders through emails to fix service prices. Even it allows direct bidding and unsolicited deal with a single bidder or one from a pool of pre-selected bidders through restrictive tender.

The law curtailed the court's jurisdiction, saying all acts done or purported to have been done, actions taken or orders made under this law shall not be questioned in any court.

When the law was made last year, legal experts blasted the government and said it would encourage corruption in the power sector.

In defence of the extension of effectiveness of the law for two more years, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Enamul Haque told the House it was not possible to meet the country's demand for power and energy even after the expiry of effectiveness of the law on October 11.

He said quick implementation of some more projects is needed to meet the demand for power and energy. Therefore, extension of effectiveness of the law is needed, he said in a brief statement tagged with the copies of the bill.

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