The decision to import wheat from Russia at a higher than market prices and the agreement with Gazprom to dig three gas wells in Bhola at three times higher cost in the current economic strain are against the public interest, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said in a statement.
In both cases, the organisation feels that a dishonest self-interested and opportunistic circle is being handed the scope to make unethical and exorbitant profits.
Citing news reports, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, the executive director of TIB said, "The Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have created instability in the global food and energy market, triggering a multi-faceted crisis in the country's economy. To deal with these the government has adopted a rational austerity policy in terms of revenue expenditure besides imposing various restrictions in the financial sector. At the same time, we are shocked by the fact that the Food Ministry has issued work orders to the controversial Prodintorg to import food products at prices much higher than the current international market price in violation of existing laws."
He also said, "It begs the question how a company that failed to supply only 1 lakh tons of wheat can get the deal to supply 5 lakh tons of wheat? …. How was it decided to buy wheat at higher prices without properly checking the market and how this purchase plan was quickly approved? It is important to find answers to these questions."
Those who benefited directly and indirectly from these deals by abuse of power, should be identified and brought under accountability through a fair and impartial investigation, the TIB executive director said in the statement.