India has again pressed Bangladesh for allowing its companies to participate in international tenders floated by the government of Bangladesh, officials said.
"The High Commission of India, Dhaka has further requested the government ministry to look into the matter so that Indian companies are not excluded from participating in international tenders floated by the government of Bangladesh," said a recent note verbale.
Since December 2016, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka has issued over a dozen note verbales to the ministries concerned seeking favour, the officials added.
On September 30 and October 18 this year, it sent two note verbales to the foreign ministry, reminding the issue.
The issue of restrictions on participation of Indian companies in international tenders was raised at a commerce secretary-level meeting between Bangladesh and India held on 15-16 January 2020 in New Delhi.
According to the note verbales, "The High Commission of India, Dhaka wishes to draw the attention of the esteemed ministry to a tender for floated by Department of Fire Service and Civil Defence under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which restricts participation of Indian companies by confining the country of origin of goods to only Japan/USA/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand and EU countries as sourcing countries."
The commission claimed that Indian companies possess competence and experience to execute international contracts successfully and supply goods that meet global quality standards at competitive prices, the note verbales added.
India does not place any such restrictions on Bangladesh companies interested in participating in international tenders floated by the former, it mentioned.
During his visit to Dhaka in September 2018, former Indian commerce minister Suresh Prabhu took the issue with his then Bangladeshi counterpart.
In February 2018, Indian commerce secretary Rita Teaotia also raised the issue at the secretary-level meeting held in Dhaka. At the fifth meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission held in New Delhi in February 2019, the Indian side had also asked for the favour.
In the note verbale sent in September 2019, the Indian High Commission referred to "precluding participation of Indian companies in international tenders floated by various government organisations of Bangladesh putting restrictions on the country of origin of goods to be supplied."
In the technical specification of the tenders, it also said, Bangladeshi organisations mention that goods to be supplied must be manufactured in the country having human development index above 0.8.
In the 2019 human development index of the United Nations Development Programme, India ranked 129th having value of 0.647.
In an earlier note verbale, the high commission said the "technical specification should be non-restrictive, fair and open as stipulated in the Bangladesh PPR 2008."
However, a web trawl produced scores of news items, which said Indian companies secured contracts for a good number of mega infrastructure projects either in joint venture or unilaterally, a high official of the commerce ministry said.
The contracts include: Larsen & Toubro's getting a Rs 31.91 billion work for the construction of a line for Dhaka Metrorail project, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd's winning of international bid valued at Rs 100 billion for setting up of a coal power plant, and securing a Rs 7.37 billion contract from Russia to build Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant by Hindustan Construction Co, he added.
A senior official at the ministry of commerce told the FE that the PPR 2008 does not add any clause that restricts any 'particular' country to participate in any tender process, let alone India.
"Any international tender is open to all and they can participate by meeting the conditions," he said.
The official, preferring anonymity, said the government's ministries concerned are examining the Indian concern if any particular country by any means faced restrictions.
"India is our good and important neighbouring country. We have no intention to bar its companies here. No agency could relax rules for any particular country or obstruct anyone with bad intention in case of international tenders," he made it clear.