ECNEC clears much-awaited satellite launching project

Untied News of Bangladesh . Dhaka

The executive committee of the National Economic Council on Tuesday approved the much-awaited ‘Bangabandhu Satellite Launching’ project with an outlay of Tk 2,967.95 crore, aiming to launch the country’s first satellite in the orbit.
The approval came from the 8th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year held at the NEC conference room here with ECNEC chairperson and prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in the chair.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said six development projects involving TK 4296.63 crore were approved on the day.
‘Of the total project cost, TK 1928.53 crore will come from the national exchequer, while TK 5.03 crore from the organisation’s own fund and TK 2363.07 crore in project assistance,’ he said.
The planning minister said the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission under the post and telecommunications ministry would implement the project by June 2017 under which the country’s first satellite would be launched in the orbit.
He said although there has been delay in undertaking of the project, it would save around Tk 110 to Tk 120 crore every year in foreign currency in broadcasting expenditure once the satellite is launched.
Under the project, two earth stations would be set up at Jaidevpur in Gazipur and Betbunia in Rangamati apart from launching of a satellite.
Of the total cost of Tk 2,967.95 crore of the project, Tk 1315.51 crore would come from the public coffer while the rest of TK 1652.44 crore from the suppliers credit or bidders financing.
Mustafa Kamal hoped that many companies would come up with their competitive bids for the project, and said that American firm Space Partnership International would help Bangladesh design and launch the satellite.
Asked about the media report of hectic lobbying of a Chinese firm for the project, the planning minister said this was not the time for making comment on the issue as the project has just got the ECNEC approval.
The BTRC would initiate buying ‘orbital slot’ for the satellite after approval.
Bangladesh spends around $ 14 million annually on satellite rents for running television channels, telephones and radio connectivity. ‘With the launching of the satellite, Bangladesh would become self-reliant and there would be no need for renting bandwidth.’ The project was scheduled to start in 2013, but the authorities concerned have failed to maintain the deadline. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently expressed her annoyance over the delay.
The BTRC would purchase an orbital slot on 119 degree East from Intersputnik, a renowned Russian company, with a single lifetime of 15 years.
Currently, 50 countries have satellites of their own. India and Pakistan are the only countries in the subcontinent with satellites.  Sri Lanka is also in the middle of a process for launching one of its own.
The ECNEC meeting gave nod to another project, titled ‘Procurement of 120 Broad Gauge passenger carriage for Bangladesh Railway’ with Tk 975.97 crore to be completed by June 2017. Of the total project cost, Tk 710.63 crore would come from the Indian government under its Line of Credit.

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