Rafiq Hasan – Shipping Minister Akbar Hossain has said he would not comply with the directives of the cabinet division on economic affairs to revise his ministry’s proposals on privatising five land ports. The five land ports are Sonamasjid in Rajshahi, Hili and Birol in Dinajpur, Banglabandha in Panchagarh and Bibir Bazar in Comilla. The shipping ministry had proposed to develop the land ports by private sector on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis while the cabinet division has asked the ministry to follow Bangladesh Private Sector Infrastructure Guidelines. The proposal is at the final stage and it will take a long time to revise it according to private sector infrastructure guidelines, the minister said on Monday. “I am not going to revise the proposals after so much work for the last two years,” he said. “Had the government approved the proposal, privatisation process of the five land ports would be completed by one year and the government would get increased revenue,” he said, adding, “The plan can not be implemented during the present government’s tenure if we revise it.” Claiming that the proposals were prepared on the basis of government’s existing rules and regulations, the minister said its consultation and documentation process has already cost around Tk 25 lakh.
A vested quarter in the government was responsible for delaying every development initiative, he said. On the basis of a decision to build 11 land ports taken at an inter-ministerial meeting on November 9, 2002, the shipping ministry finalised the process to develop five land ports on BOT basis in the first phase and submitted the proposals to the cabinet division on December 12 last year. The Infrastructure Investment Facilitation Centre helped the shipping ministry to prepare the tender documents and many private operators have agreed to invest in the sector, sources said. The decision to privatize land ports was taken following the World Bank suggestions.