ACC finds corruption in CAAB, Biman; recommends action

_By Raquib Siddiqi16 Apr, 2019 | 585 Views|-+
Dhaka : The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has identified sources of irregularities and corruption in the Civil Aviation Authority of Bang-ladesh (CAAB) and Biman Bang-ladesh Airlines Limited (Biman), hence recommended action to remove the sources of corruption.

The ACC enquiry report - without naming any one - detected corruption in 11 sectors at the CAAB and 8 sectors in Biman.

Some officials of CAAB, the aviation regulator, accept bribes from contractors, who are "looting money" by building poor-quality towers and boarding bridges, the ACC has found.

On the other hand, Biman high-ups, including some of its board members, have been misappropriating huge money through irregularities in tender process, it added.

The separate enquiries into the conducts of the aviation regulator and the national flag carrier, which started in March 2017, are based on interviews of current and retired officials, analysis of annual and audit reports, statements of victims and media reports.

Md Mozammel Haque Khan, Commissioner of ACC submitted two reports on corruption at Biman and at CAAB to Md Mahbub Ali, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry on March 3.

CAAB's picture

The ACC identified 11 areas of corruption at CAAB. These include procurement, construction and development work, asset management, airport space lease, stall and billboard, appointment of consultant and overseas training of officials.

The others are implementation of Montreal Convention on passengers' rights, repair and maintenance, licensing pilots, flight engineers and aircraft, flight frequencies and permission of flight schedule.

In the CAAB, the biggest corruption takes place in construction and development work sector.

"There are allegations that compromising quality of the work, contractors and engineers misappropriate money," it said.

There are some honest engineers in CAAB, but they are deprived of promotion due to the influence of dishonest officials, the ACC found.

The report said sub-standard shops have mushroomed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by giving monthly bribe to dishonest officials of both CAAB and the Ministry.

It was also found that retired officials who worked at the CAAB on deputation are appointed as consultants instead of experienced consultants.

The commission recommended appointment of BUET teachers and experts to committees for purchase and evaluation of construction work, and experienced director for asset management in CAAB.

It said CAAB should determine the justification of shops and billboards in airport areas, organise trainings to increase staff skills, launch electronic tender system for construction and repair work, deputise skilled people to proper places, and identify and stop corruption in giving air licences and flight engineers.

Biman's picture

The sectors in the flag carrier that are hit by irregularities and corruption are procurement and lease of aircraft, maintenance and overhaul, ground servicing, cargo import and export, passenger transportation and ticket sale, embezzlement of extra baggage charges and food catering, according to one of the reports.

In case of purchase and lease of aircraft, some intermediary firms work as liaison between the service providers and the Biman high-ups as well as its board members, the ACC has found.

It says "huge corruption" takes place in procurement and lease of aircraft and purchase of machinery. It claims corruption worth "tens of millions of takas" involving aircraft maintenance and purchase of repair tools.

"Spending huge money, these companies make officials fix the specification of [aircraft] procurement in a way so that only the preferred companies get the work. They show estimated price several times the actual price. As a result, low-quality equipment is bought at two to three times the rate," said the report.

Some among the Biman top brass and the board of directors have direct or indirect partnership in these firms, according to the report.

"Bangladesh Biman lost several thousand crores of taka as a result of the influence of these intermediary companies," it said, adding that the national carrier had to replace new engines of aircraft worth several thousand crores as the authorities did not consider overhaul earlier.

The probe further found that tenders were invited at such a time when good companies do not have any stock of aircraft. "As a result, Biman had to take lease of low-quality aircraft at higher rates from the companies preferred by the dishonest quarters."

Internal as well as government audit teams raised numerous objections about the matter, but the objections remained unsettled every year, the report said.

In case of maintenance and overhaul, officials and board members award the work to their preferred organisations and loot hundreds of crores of taka, it added.

"Ground service is one of the most corrupt sectors at Biman Bangladesh Airlines…. every day several million taka are collected from different airlines for ground service. In reality, it was found that different airlines do most of the job of ground service with their own logistic service. But Biman could not provide minimum service as per the contracts."

As a result, many foreign airlines have become reluctant to operate in Bangladesh, while many stopped their operation altogether in Dhaka, the report said.

Cargo service is a big source of Biman's income, but the airlines is getting "tens of millions of takas less" in airway bills for "uncontrolled" corruption in this area, the ACC report says.

Staffers involved in cargo service in collusion with exporters and importers show goods weighing less than they do or a different unit of measurement to share the proceeds, according to the report.

Biman officials embezzle money by not submitting fees paid by passengers for extra baggage, the ACC found in investigation.

They also refuse to sell tickets even when seats remain empty in order to facilitate sale of tickets of other airlines, the report said.

Other corruption by Biman includes showing less weight of goods in import and export, not adjusting extra baggage charge and providing low-quality food to passengers.

The ACC recommended institution of a committee made of local and foreign experts to approve aircraft purchase.

The extent of corruption should be assessed, by reviewing documents related to purchase of tools and machinery, it said.

The commission recommended three to five years' contract with world-renowned ground-handlers to develop Biman's skill in this area.

It also asked for strengthened supervision to stop irregularities in weighing cargo and baggage.

The ACC made 19 recommendations to address corruption. These include forming purchase committee with local and foreign experts, fixing condition of lease, analysing records of procurement to find out the magnitude of corruption.

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