A joint venture of two little-known Panama and Indian companies gets the go to build a 50-megwatt solar power plant in Bangladesh south-western Khulna district.
The cabinet committee on government purchases at a virtually-held meeting Wednesday, chaired by finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, gave the approval for engaging the duo foreign firms for setting up the plant.
Hero Future Energies Asia Pte Ltd, Singapore, and Business Research International Corporation Inc (BRIC), Panama, will set up the power plant in Terokhada upazila in Khulna on a 486-acre plot of land.
Bangladesh Power Development Board will buy electricity from the plant at US$0.1025/kWh for a period of 20 years on 'no-electricity-no-pay' basis.
While briefing newsmen after the meeting, the minister could not give details about the Panama-based company -- Business Research International Corporation Inc. (BRIC).
Mr Kamal said he contacted state minister for power Nasrul Hamid on this issue over the phone, and he would inform him of the details about the company later on.
Asked whether the government is allowing shell companies -- who get registered in islands known as tax havens to avoid paying tax -- to invest in Bangladesh, the minister didn't answer.
However, while searching on the internet about the company, a website under domain https://bri-corp.com/ was found put on 'Under Maintenance...'. Another search found that company having an address with no details other than -- 'Banani, Dhaka, Bangladesh'.
A website named -- databd.co mentioned that Business Research International Corporation Inc. (BRIC) is a Panamanian-registered investment company for a family office registered in 1987. The company, since then, has been engaged in "primarily Public Equity investments across multiple industries across multiple markets".
Another website -- https://opencorporates.com/ -- says Business Research International Corp Inc is a Panama-registered company which has directors and officers namely
Carlos Arosemena Arias, Gabriel Castro Suarez, Julio Cesar Contreras Jurado, Mishal Karim, and Ramon Jurado Borrero.
In 2016, the Panama Papers scandal, a leak of encrypted confidential documents of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, exposed a system which enabled crime, corruption and wrongdoing by many offshore companies.
The leak revealed heads of governments, political giants, and conglomerates of various countries having siphoned off ill-gotten money and invested in the tax havens.
Replying to a query on the slashing of rates of returns on savings tools, the minister said small-scale savers would not be affected due to the new decision as the rate of up to Tk 1.5 million is kept unchanged.
"Despite the latest cuts, the interest rates on savings tools remain higher compared to any other existing rates," said Mr Kamal.
He said due to high interest rates everyone was rushing to savings tools, which had been affecting other organs of the economy.
Asked whether the rate cuts will discourage investment in savings tools, the finance minister answered in the negative. "There is no reason of feeling discouraged. None will be looser. "
He said revising rate is a continuous process -- and it may increase in the future.
Regarding fraudulent acts by e-commerce companies, the minister said the ministry of commerce provides licence to them and the ministry has to take the responsibility primarily.
"And, I think, the organisations which are also involved in their registration process also should take responsibility."
The cabinet body approved a total of 12 proposals in the meeting, involving Tk 38.33 billion.
BSS adds: Following a proposal from the Energy and Mineral Resources
Division, Chinese XMC-CMC Consortium has been appointed for a six-year term to extract coal from Boropukuria Coalmine in Dinajpur for around Tk 10.494 billion.
Besides, on another proposal from the Energy and Mineral Resources
Division, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) would procure some 3.360-million MMBtu liquefied natural gas (LNG) from spot market for Vitol Asia Pte Ltd, Singapore, at a cost of around Tk 10.023 billion.
The meeting approved another proposal from the Power Division under which Ideal
Electrical Enterprise Ltd would conduct the work for setting up six power substations with necessary machinery on turn-key basis with at Tk 650 million under the Lot-2, package No-GD-1 of the project titled 'Development of Power Distribution System, Mymensingh Zone'.
Also, Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) is given approval for procuring 30,000 tonnes of bagged granular urea fertiliser from KAFCO, Bangladesh under the fourth lot for around Tk 1.093 billion.
Besides, the Ministry of Food will procure some 50,000 tonnes of wheat from Agrocorp International Pte Ltd, Singapore, for the current fiscal year for around Tk 1.79 billion where the price for per-ton wheat would be US$421.19.