Fresh row with WB leads to uncertainty
The tender for setting up a 300 megawatt peaking power plant in Siddhirganj with World Bank funds fell flat last month due to Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh's inept handling of the tender process during the last 20 months.
The EGCB would now re-tender the project. But the re-tendering again became uncertain due to difference of opinions between the World Bank and the EGCB, sources said.
The World Bank last month suggested that the EGCB float the tender under a process called "flash bidding" where only the bidders of the cancelled tender will participate. This process would cut down bidder selection process drastically.
WB Country Director Ellen Goldstein on August 16 wrote to the ministry, "Under normal circumstances, we would recommend a full re-tendering of this Bid Package. However, we are keenly aware of the importance of this power situation in view of Bangladesh's ongoing power shortages. On an exceptional basis, we would endorse an accelerated process of 'flash bidding' in order to award a contract within an estimated 90 days."
But EGCB Managing Director in-charge Shanti Ram Roy on August 22 wrote to the ministry that the Public Procurement Act or the World Bank guideline has no directives for holding such "flash bidding".
The EGCB sought the ministry's decision on the next course of action.
The EGCB floated the tender in January 2009 and got offers from eight bidders on April 30 last year. The read-out price offers of these companies ranged between $180 million and $270 million.
From the beginning, an influential ruling-party man representing one of the bidders had been trying to influence the evaluation of the tender; thus unusually slowing down the bid process.
The WB in July last year informed the government of a decision that Siemens have been restrained from participating in the World Bank Group financed projects till December 31, 2010 as the bank was investigating an allegation of corruption against the company. In other words, the WB would not sponsor a power project that uses Siemens equipment.
Despite this condition, the EGCB late last year conditionally recommended Chinese company Sinohydro as the lowest competitive bidder. The company is using Siemens equipment. The project's Canadian consultant SNC Lavalin had recommended the CMEC for the project, which is also using Siemens equipment.
The WB did not approve any of these recommendations. To remove the stalemate, the power ministry in February held a meeting with the WB and EGCB. But at the meeting, the WB reiterated its position saying that after re-evaluation, if it was possible, the second lowest bidder who has not offered the machines of Siemens could be offered the job.
But the EGCB argued on in favour of Sinohydro. And the power ministry formally wrote to the WB to give a waiver to the Siemens-related condition.
As none of them worked, the EGCB tried to promote Indo-German joint venture Gammons-Sadelmi as the lowest responsive bidder. But the Gammons last year went bankrupt.
This attempt also failed to please the WB.