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Dhaka Tribune

US bank keen to finance satellite project

Update : 23 Apr 2013, 04:46 AM

The Export-Import Bank of USA is willing to finance 85% of the total cost of Bangabandhu-1 satellite under a supplier’s credit arrangement.

The bank wrote to Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission recently, expressing the interest to fund around Tk25 billion for the Tk30 billion project - already approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).

The rate of interest is proposed to be less than 2%.

It is the first proposal from any prospective financier. The government was trying to get external fund supports since the project was conceived.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication forwarded the proposal to the ministries of finance and planning for their consideration, secretary of the ministry Md. Abubakar Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune.

“We cannot take decision on any foreign credit proposal for a project approved by the ECNEC,” he added.

BTRC officials were not, however, convinced whether the credit term was soft as many aspects of the proposal have not been verified until yesterday.

According to the proposal, BTRC could choose any vendor from USA, Canada and Europe.

Bangladesh has already signed a non-binding agreement with a Russian satellite company, Sputnik, on 119 East degree of the space, amid objections to 102 degree slot for the satellite from around 20 countries including USA, Russia, France and Australia.

Officials said BTRC will have to spend $35m for the orbital slot for a single life time of 15 years.

“After signing a non-binding agreement in March this year, we are now in the second phase to finalise the deal with Sputnik,” said one of them, requesting anonymity.

At the same time, BTRC is trying to get its own orbital slots on 102 degree and 69 degree east. It also expressed interest for another slot of 135 degree east to ITU (International Telecommunications Union) though it is very far from Bangladesh coverage.

“We’re trying for our own orbits as well amid lots of objections,” BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose told the Dhaka Tribune recently.

Bangladesh spends around $11 million annually on satellite rents for running television channels, telephones and radios. If Bangladesh can successfully launch the satellite, it will earn $50m through renting out the unused portion every year. Neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar could become the users.

“Though India has its own satellites, it can be a market for us too,” an executive of consulting firm Space Partnership International (SPI) said.  

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