Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Thursday criticised a recent statement by the Russian Embassy in Bangladesh made in response to the civil society organisation's concerns about two deals between Dhaka and Moscow.
The embassy's efforts to relate TIB's concerns to Russian rivalry with Western powers is absolutely unwarranted and self-defeating, a TIB statement said.
In its statement published on Wednesday, the Russian embassy accused Transparency International of making 'biased reports' for political purposes.
TIB's Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman on Wednesday said, "TIB has nothing against any country as the source of supply of any product like wheat for Bangladesh or any other business deals including gas exploration.
"What matters for TIB is its efforts to contribute to the Bangladesh government's commitment to ensuring due process, value for money, and above all, transparency and accountability in such deals."
The reasoning behind TIB's concerns about the two deals has been sufficiently clarified by its two successive statements, said the TIB statement, adding that the Russian embassy's statement has caused further confusion about the grain deal.
TIB said the Russian claim of National Electric LLC being the agent of the Russian exporter and was not part of the decision-making process, directly contradicts the response of the concerned government official who has been quoted to have mentioned that the so-called local agent took part in the final negotiation meeting and helped in reaching a deal.
The embassy's statement did not provide an acceptable rationale for calculating the landed cost of $100 per tonne, and how such a high rate ensures value for money for a deal of 500,000 tonnes, TIB continued.
Moreover, the claim that 'the cost of importing wheat on a G-to-G basis is less than through the open tendering method' is not tenable, given that even under the G-to-G method there is an obligation to ensure that the price is compatible with the prevailing competitive rate in the global market which is lower and has been showing a further downward trend.
In relation to gas exploration, TIB said the Russian embassy's attempted comparison with US companies is irrelevant.
The civil society organisation said TIB reached its conclusion considering the projected cost of gas exploration by Bapex in comparison to the cost of awarding the contract to Gazprom.
The embassy could have done better to its cause if it explained why the cost of Gazprom under the deal was three times higher than that of Bapex, the TIB statement said.
TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman also criticised the Russian government for its treatment of Transparency International's Russia chapter.
He said, "It is well known that TI Russia has been victimised by the Russian government because of the chapter's credible work against corruption in Russia, particularly on kleptocratic state capture in the country. It should be also added that TI is not the only NGO or CSO that has been targeted and persecuted by the regime in Russia."