12:00 AM, June 17, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 17, 2009

Offload 49pc share of Biman to NRBs

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Rashidul Hasan

A parliamentary standing committee yesterday recommended offloading 40-49 percent shares of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd onto non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) to improve the financial strength of the national flag carrier and make it profitable.
The parliamentary body on the civil aviation and tourism ministry also asked the Biman management to lease three Boeing-777s for resuming the Dhaka-New York route and other long-haul routes, which are now suspended due to aircraft shortages.
During a meeting, it also asked Biman's new management to start "motivational programmes" for Biman staff so that they become more professional and Biman runs more efficiently.
Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, chairman of the standing committee, told reporters after the meeting, "Biman is facing capital shortage. The committee therefore unanimously recommended offloading Biman's 40 to 49 percent shares onto non-resident Bangladeshis."
Civil aviation and tourism minister and chairman of the board of directors of Biman Jamaluddin Ahmed and civil aviation secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamun were also present in the four-hour-long meeting held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
Mosharraf said Biman would be able to accumulate between Tk 1,500 crore and Tk 2,000 crore selling the shares to NRBs.
Biman was turned into a public limited company in July, 2007 to stop huge losses every year and start making profit.
Biman, however, could not attain the desired improvements in the last two years during which cent percent of its shares were in the government's possession.
Biman still cannot maintain flight schedules thanks to shortage of aircrafts. Taking advantage of the situation, foreign airlines are capturing Bangladesh Biman's market share.
The committee also proposed including five major NRB shareholders in the 10-member board of directors of Biman while the government should directly appoint the other five.

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