Finance minister AMA Muhith has expressed disappointment with the state-owned telecommunication commission as it failed to service debt it had taken from Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) for installation of Bangabandhu-1 satellite, said finance division officials on Monday.
The minister termed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission an ‘inept’ organisation having no minimum responsibility to carry out the duty of timely debt servicing, they said while quoting a note by the finance minister in his connection.
The nature of the loan was a non-concessional one with less grace period against which the non-concessional loan committee headed by finance minister AMA Muhith provided state-guarantee.
The officials said BTRC became defaulted in clearing nine out of 12 installments due since March 2018 against its loan of 157.5 million euro taken in September 2016 prompting the HSBC to impose 8395.98 euro (equivalent to Tk 796,638.85) as penalty.
They also said that the government had not paid any penalty and failed to service debts to any overseas agency in the past 46 years.
Muhith noted that some other organisations should be given the responsibility to servicing the debt to the HSBC instead of BRTC.
The new organisation would realise the money from the BTRC’s annual budgetary allocation to service the debt, he added.
On Saturday, BTRC acting chairman Jahurul Haque said that there were no more arrears in instalments as the commission already cleared those.
He said the matter was not so serious.
Commenting on the penalty imposed by the HSBC, Jahurul Haque said, ‘We are not satisfied with the service. We should not allow them to take additional money from this country.’
As per the agreement, BTRC would repay the loan in 20 instalments in 12 years with the annual interest rate of 1.5 per cent in addition to agency fee, commitment fee and agency security fee.
Thales Alenia Space of France that was awarded the deal of installing the satellite handed over the ownership of it on Friday to the BTRC after it was launched by American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, SpaceX, in May 11 this year from Florida in the USA.
Meanwhile, the treasury and debts management wing of the finance division already held two inter-ministerial meetings on October 17 and October 28 to review the payment detail of the BTRC to the bank, said the officials.
The inter-ministerial meeting on October 28, attended among others by additional secretary and managing director Saiful Islam of the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited, expressed disappointment over the payment failure by BTRC.
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