Stubborn BTCL drops firm from bidding
State-run telecom company BTCL has dropped a participant from a bidding process, disregarding the decision of a review panel on public purchases.
Not only that, the state-run company also turned down the recommendations of the telecom ministry, and also the decision of its own board of directors, to allow the participant in the bidding.
The bidding was for the job of building an optical fibre transmission network of Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) with loans from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Istanbul-based Nortel Networks Netas Telekomunikasyon took part in the prequalification assessment process of the bidding, but the BTCL disqualified the firm, saying it did not submit appropriate documents.
Korea-based KT Corporation and NEC Corporation of Japan qualified for the bidding.
In a verdict on March 18, the quasi-judiciary panel, which reviews all public purchases on the basis of any complaint, declared Netas qualified and directed the BTCL to allow Netas to take part in the bidding.
The panel, after a hearing, also said the removal of Netas from the prequalification assessment was illogical and unilateral.
The panel said the BTCL has done improper activities during the evaluation.
On May 17 last year, the telecom company gave an advertisement for the prequalification assessment for the job -- Supply, Installation, Testing and Commissioning of National Transmission Backbone (Optical Fibre and Microwave System-Lot-B) -- under Telecommunication Network Development project.
However, after more than 40 days of the review panel's verdict, the BTCL opened the financial offers of KT Corporation and NEC Corporation on Thursday for further evaluation, thwarting the possibility of Netas of participating in the bidding.
Meanwhile, the ministry on March 18 asked the BTCL to follow the review panel's decision. The BTCL board also directed the same on March 21.
Against this backdrop, the BTCL also sought legal advice from a law firm on April 9 on the instruction of the ministry.
A BTCL official said the law firm did not contradict any content of the review panel's decision, but suggested that it was not mandatory for the BTCL to go by the panel's verdict; rather the telecom company will have to follow the JICA guidelines.
But analysts said the BTCL has already lost its ground to go to court against the review panel's decision.
Sunil Kanti Bose, the telecom secretary and chairman of the BTCL board, said Thursday that the BTCL management did not inform him about opening of the financial offers of KT Corporation and NEC Corporation.
“The BTCL management might have taken measures as per their own system,” he said without elaborating on the "own system" that even contradicts the decision of the board of directors.
Due to time constraints, the BTCL had to hurry to finish the evaluation process, he said.
Bose also said the JICA authorities have examined the evaluation process and gave a go-ahead.
The activities were done in line with the JICA guidelines, the secretary added.
But the analysts said all the evaluation will have to be done according to the rules and regulations of the borrower county, Bangladesh.
And the JICA guidelines also endorse it, they said.
“The establishment and authority of evaluation organisations must be in full accordance with laws and regulations of the borrower country,” according to the evaluation guide for prequalification and biding under Japanese ODA (Overseas Development Agency) loans.
The guidelines for procurement under Japanese ODA loans also said: “Problems related to a decision on the awarding or conclusion of a contract should be solved by the parties concerned in the light of the bidding documents or contract, and JICA is not in a position to take any responsibility.”
"The responsibility for procurement lies with the borrower and not with JICA."