India has been, allegedly, pressing Bangladesh to allow its companies to participate in international tenders, floated by the latter, without meeting the criteria set in the Public Procurement Rules 2008.
Since December 2016, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka has issued over a dozen note verbales to the authorities seeking the favour, officials concerned said.
During his visit to Dhaka September 2018, former Indian commerce minister Suresh Prabhu took up the issue with his the 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 last year, the high commission referred to "precluding participation of Indian companies in international tenders floated various government organisations of Bangladesh by putting restriction on the country of origin of goods to be supplied."
It also said in the technical specification of the tenders, Bangladeshi organisations mention that the 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, or UNDP, India ranked the 129th having value of 0.647.
In a recent 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.
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 wining 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 built Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant by Hindustan Construction Co.
A senior official at the ministry of commerce told the FE last week 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, adding such procedures are followed by everywhere in the country to get quality goods and services.
The official, preferring anonymity, said the ministry of commerce has recently conveyed the Indian concern to the Central Procurement Technical Unit of the ministry of planning to examine if any particular country by any means faced restrictions.
"India is our good neighbour. We have no intention to bar its companies here," he said.
But he made it clear no agency could relax rules for any particular country or obstruct anyone with bad intention in case of international tenders.
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