A high level meeting yesterday decided on drastic action to restore discipline in the state owned Titas Gas company and tame those who are opposing a move towards privatising the loss incurring Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, reports UNB.
Sources said the meeting with State Minister for Energy, AKM Mosharraf Hossain in the chair took the matter seriously that an employee of Eastern Refinery, which will not be privatised, was leading an agitation against privatisation of Padma, Meghna and Jamuna oil companies.
"How a person of Eastern Refinery was made chairman of the action committee that called a strike against privatisation of BPC? Why a person of Eastern Refinery that will not be privatised is here?" the minister was learnt to have put the questions in the meeting.
The meeting dismissed the propaganda that BPC is a profitable concern noting down that it loses Tk 450 crore annually only on diesel imports. It also loses 64 paisa selling per liter of local diesel.
"Private-sector entrepreneurs assured the government that they pay the same tax as BPC now gives making sales at the same prices the BPC sells at. In that case, why the government will incur huge losses every year," Mosharraf told the top officials.
He, however, assured that a completely transparent policy would be followed in privatising Padma, Meghna and Jamuna – three subsidiaries of the state corporation BPC. Shares of Padma, already 49 per cent owned by private sector, will be sold as per market rates.
Sources said the meeting decided to determine the value of the state-owned losing oil companies, who 30 years back were in private sector, through joint committee of engineers and accountants. Later, the companies will be sold out through open tender.
"Officials-employees of the three companies had been in private sector. Why are they opposing the privatisation process? The only reason is that if privatised, they will not be able to make money through theft and adulteration," the minister told the news agency after the meeting.
Meanwhile, sources said the meeting at the Energy Ministry asked the Titas Gas authorities to take stern action against its employees involved in alleged gas stealing. It also asked for audit of all ledgers to check the heist.
To restore discipline in Titas and check gas stealing that entails loss of crores of taka on the government exchequer, the meeting also asked for framing fresh rules and regulations with regard to management, connection, purchase and accounts.
It also reviewed the situation in Titas following ban on trade union interference in any levels of the management. As three unions in Titas belonged to ruling party’s labour front, they have also been asked to go for merger within three months.
Asked about a Titas metre reader who allegedly became millionaire cashing in on the loose administration of the organisation, the minister told the news agency that he had been issued show-cause notice and suspended for holding illegal passport. An inquiry will also be conducted by Petrobangla into alleged corruption committed by him and trade union leaders.
Highlights of other decisions taken in the meeting are: Immediate disposal of all cases of Titas; Expansion of Titas network as per surveys as now there is no need of any project proposal; Dividing Titas into two or three companies for its smooth functioning; Augmentation of existing gas fields as demand of gas is increasing everyday; Reviewing existing energy policy adopted in 1995 and its update; Forming an advisory committee, comprising MPs, bureaucrats and experts regarding energy resources; and Setting up 10 more government CNG gas stations in the capital and four in private sector by December.