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Govt eyes state companies to finance Padma Bridge project

  • Published at 10:16 am April 21st, 2013
Govt eyes state companies to finance Padma Bridge project

The country’s state-owned companies have been asked to provide the national exchequer with extra funds to assist the government finance the Padma Bridge project.

The instruction emerged from a meeting of the Finance Division last week, officials said.Additional Finance Secretary Ranjit Kumar Chakraborty chaired the meeting.

The government decided to finance the bridge on its own after the World Bank and other development partners of Bangladesh pulled out of financing commitments due to allegations of corruption and conspiracies.

Now the government is trying to mobilise the funds from local sources. As part of the effort, it asked state-owned enterprises (SOEs)and corporations to provide more money right from the current fiscal year, said the officials.

The meeting considered that some of the SOEs were making profit from their operations – a portion of which could be diverted for funding the bridge. The earnings of a few of them, including Petrobangla, have increased over the last four years.

Petrobangla has been asked to pay Tk8bn to the government exchequer by mid-May, which is almost Tk3bn more than what the state energy agency paid last fiscal year.In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Petrobangla companies deposited Tk4.75bn from a cumulative profit of Tk24.84bn.

“We will need more time to pay the extra amount. It will be difficult to do it within this period,” Petrobanglachairman Husain Monsur, who was present at the meeting, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

The meeting was told that a total of 13 companies of Petrobangla would earn a cumulative profit of Tk20.29bn this fiscal (2012-13).

Monsur said that the Petrobangla will have to find a way to make the money available for the Padma Bridge project.

However, overall losses of the SOEs doubled to about Tk169bn in 2011-12, as compared to about Tk87bn the previous fiscal year.According to Bangladesh Economic Review 2012, Bangladesh Power Development Board and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation topped the list of loss making SOEs.

The SOEs suffered losses from fiscal 2001-02 to fiscal 2007-08, and earned profit in the fiscals 2008-09 and 2009-10.

The SOEs again started incurring losses from 2009-10, mainly due to high fuel oil prices in the international market and increased rates of electricity from rental and quick rental power plants. Of the 46 SOEs, 16 incurred losses that outweighed the profit made by the rest.