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Bangladesh - World wide - March 20, 2024

Tk 26 cr allegedly misused to buy Russian wheat

Staff Correspondent : A total of 300,000 tonnes of wheat is being imported officially (G2G) from the Russian government. The price of wheat has been fixed at $288 per ton. However, five days before this, it was decided to buy wheat at the rate of $279.85 per ton through international tender from the same country. 50 thousand tons of wheat is being bought in this process. In this case, the price of wheat per ton was lower by $8. Accordingly, the government has to pay an additional $2.4 million to buy 3 lakh tons of wheat under the G2G method. At Tk 110 per dollar, its amount stands at over Tk 26 crore.
Many have raised questions about such a big change in the price of the same product in the same country in just five days. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) called to look into the matter.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder, however, claimed that maximum efforts have been made to keep the price of wheat purchased from Russia under the G2G system low. He told in his office last Monday, ‘We have to buy at this price considering the world food situation. After seven hours of negotiations over two days, Russia agreed to pay $288 per ton of wheat. This price is inclusive of port arrival and lighter vessel fare. Every member of the committee agreed on this. The matter has also been discussed with the Prime Minister.
When asked how Russian wheat was found at a low price just 5 days ago, the food minister said, “It is true that a new company has agreed to give wheat at $279.85 through international tender. But getting wheat at this price is so tough. Let’s see what kind of wheat they give! If it is low quality wheat, we will not take it.
According to related sources, the Food Directorate recently invited international tenders to buy 50,000 tons of wheat. The lowest bidder was the Russian company Grain Flower. An agreement was signed with them on February 22. The company agreed to charge $279.85 per ton of wheat. After 5 days on February 27, it was decided to import 300,000 tons of wheat from Russia under G2G method. In that case, the price of wheat per ton is fixed at $288.
A high-level committee determines the prices under the G2G system. In addition to the relevant ministries, this committee includes representatives of the relevant departments including the Prime Minister’s Office, Finance Department, Ministry of Commerce, and NBR.
When it became known that the purchase of wheat at a higher price of $8 per ton in a span of just 5 days, whispers started in the food department. Some say that more wheat could have been procured through tenders instead of buying it at G2G as wheat was available at a relatively low price. It would save the government money.
On March 14, the Cabinet Committee on Public Procurement approved the proposal to import three lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia under G2G system. After the meeting of the committee, the secretary of the coordination and reform department of the cabinet Mahmudul Hossain Khan told the reporters that the proposal to import 3 lakh tons of wheat from Russia at the cost of Tk 950.40 crore has been approved. In this case, the price per ton is $288. Earlier this price was $303.19 dollars. He also said that in view of another proposal of the Ministry of Food, the proposal to buy 50 thousand tons of wheat from Dubai-based Russian company Grain Flower has been approved. The price fell to $279.95 per ton. Earlier the price was $303. The price has come down a lot. The total cost in Bangladesh currency is Tk 153.97 crore.
In this context, the executive director of TIB Iftekharuzzaman told, ‘It is clearly a questionable matter. The government has definitely given conditions to buy wheat of the same quality. If the quality of wheat is the same, then why there is so much variation in price? A dollar might be around.
An important committee of the government works in the G2G system. It would be such a big waste to have them, it’s not acceptable. If this is done to gain special advantage on purpose, it must be investigated. National interest above all else. At the end of the day, people’s money is going. So, the matter should be looked into.

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