Ministry asks SOEs to use BSC ships to carry goods

Jasim Uddin | Published: 00:12, Feb 10,2020


The shipping ministry has asked the state-owned entities to carry cargos, purchased or transported with the government funds, by vessels of the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation.

The BSC will charter oceangoing ships on behalf of the government agencies to carry the goods if its own vessels are not available as per requirement of the agencies, the ministry said.

The decision was made in an interministerial meeting held on January 16 at the shipping ministry with state minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury in the chair.

The corporation will charge 2.5 per cent address commission for chartering vessels on behalf of the agencies, the meeting decided.

Officials of the shipping ministry and BSC said that parliament on November 12 last year passed the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection) Act-2019 that came into effect from November 18 to protect the interest of Bangladesh flag-carrying vessels.

The law has a provision that says that all cargos transported with the government funds should be carried by BSC vessels, they said.

It is also the duty of the BSC to conduct the activities of sea transport of the goods purchased with the government resources.

Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in November, 1973 had also given a written instruction to all government offices to carry their cargos by vessels of the BSC or chartered by the BSC, they added.

But many agencies have not been complying with the provision of the law and the government’s instruction regarding transporting goods by BSC ships or chartering ships through the BSC.

The corporation repeatedly requested the agencies, including the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation and the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, to comply with the law.

State-run entities usually import various types of fertiliser, fuel oil, food items and motor vehicles.

The shipping ministry also requested the industries ministry to take steps in this connection.

But no response has come from the industries ministry and state-run entities, rather many state-run entities continue chartering directly foreign ships to transport their goods.

The situation has also created a complexity in issuing certificate of waiver to foreign vessels as per the law, officials said.

In this situation, the shipping ministry arranged the January 16 meeting to solve the problems and ensure compliance with the provision of the law, they said.

The rent for BSC’s vessels is lower than that for the private vessels.

In the meeting, representatives of the industries ministry pointed out some problems regarding transport of fertiliser through BSC vessels as the BCIC completes the process of fertiliser import, including transport from port of origin to BCIC warehouse, considering the sensitivity of the product.

It may cause delay in getting fertiliser on time due to disruption in supply chain if the item is transported through the vessels of BSC, officials said.

The BCIC, however, formed a committee to find a solution to chartering BSC ships for the purpose, they added.

Now, the BSC has six mother vessels each with 39,000 deadweight tonnage capacity for transport of cargos. Another six vessels, including mother tankers, will join its fleet soon.

BSC executive director (finance) Kazi Mohammad Shafiul Alam told New Age that the agencies would be able to charter oceangoing ships to transport their goods only if they got waiver from the BSC regarding the provision of the law.

The corporation will offer the waiver if it fails to provide ships, either its own ships or chartered by it, to meet the demand of the importers, he said.

The government entities are bound to obey the decision of the ministry as it was taken as per provision of the law, he said, adding that the BSC would take legal steps against non-compliant entities.

There are general practices that the government agencies receive services from other government entities to make them profitable and effective.

For example, the government offices purchase motor vehicles from Pragoti Industries, get insured at Shadharan Bima Corporation and use flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines as part of the cooperation, said officials.

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