Equipment prices fixed abnormally high

An abnormal price in procurement of equipment has been approved in a project of the Department of Livestock Services.

The Livestock and Dairy Development Project is being implemented at a cost of Tk 42.80 billion (Tk 4,280 crore).

The project started last year and will be completed on 31 December 2023.

The livestock services department said there will be 20 per cent increase in the cattle if the project is implemented.

The proposed price of this procurement was approved before my joining this ministry. This abnormal price is not acceptable. If there is any inconsistency in the approved price for the procurement of LDDP, those who are responsible will be punished. The ministry will not allow the abnormal price in the procurement
Fisheries and livestock minister SM Rezaul Karim
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According to the World Bank, two million small and medium cattle raisers will be benefited from the project.

Analysing the approved price of the project, it is found that the price of a chair for the project office has been fixed Tk 600,000.

And the cost for purchasing chairs and tables for the project director and consultants has been fixed Tk 2 million.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, sales and marketing executive of Otobi Showroom at Panthapath, Ashrafur Rahman said the highest price of a chair at Otobi was Tk 55,000, but those chairs are not available in their outlet any more.

Now the highest price of a chair is Tk 30,000 to 35,000 and the highest price of an office table is Tk 40,000 to 45,000, the official added.

Ashrafur said the price of a chair is Tk 3,000 to 7,000.

The price of a milk tester has been fixed at Tk 332,000. A total of Tk 99.6 million (Tk 9 crore and 96 lakh) will be spent to purchase 300 milk testers.

While visiting the Scientific Market at Hatkhola of Tikatuli in the capital, the price of a milk tester was only Tk 60 and the highest price is Tk 8,000.

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When asked about the abnormal price, fisheries and livestock minister SM Rezaul Karim said, “The proposed price of this procurement was approved before my joining to this ministry. But the abnormal price is not acceptable.”

If there is any inconsistency in the approved price for the procurement of LDDP, those who are responsible will be punished, the minister said, adding the ministry will not allow the abnormal price in the procurement.

As per the project, the price of a dustbin has been fixed Tk 250,000 while around Tk 1,050,000 will be spent for organising a exhibition of milk products in schools.

Some 65 kits will be purchased for cow pregnancy tests. Around Tk 150.70 million (15 crore and 70 lakh) has been allocated for the purpose. The price of one unit is fixed at Tk 2,415,000. In Bangladesh, a kit is rarely used to ascertain whether a cow is pregnant or not.

According to the site of e-commerce firm Alibaba, the price of one thousand kits is Tk 900 to 5,000.

Under the project, cattle feed for one hundred days will be given to 4,000 cows selected from marginal cattle raisers. A total of Tk 96 million (9 crore and 60 lakh) has been allocated for this. A total of Tk 24,000 has been allocated for each cow. A kilogram feed will be bought for Tk 80.

According to two big feed companies, the cost of one kilogram of high quality feed is Tk 36. The companies provided cattle feed to the farmers.

A total of 4,200 bicycles will be bought for the field workers of the project. A total of Tk 63 million (6 crore and 30 lakh) has been allocated for the purpose. The price of a cycle is fixed at Tk 15,000.

Murad Sheikh, a cycle dealer in Old Dhaka, said the highest price of a cycle with a carrier, which runs in rural areas, is Tk 8,000.

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Such projects mainly increase the personal wealth of the officials. The public does not gain. On the contrary, the public pays the loan taken from the World Bank. Bangladesh will make records in corruption if procurement takes place in this way. The project is finally approved after crossing many stages, but no one notices the abnormal prices.
Ifthekharuzzaman, executive director, TIB

A total of Tk 2.94 million (2 crore and 94 lakh) has been allocated to procure such a kit box for the field workers. The price of each kit box has been fixed at Tk 7,000.

According to Bangladesh e-commerce site AjkerDeal, the price of such a kit box is Tk 300 to 1,250.

Cattle exhibitions will be organised at 1860 places. A total of Tk 463.1 million (Tk 46 crore 31 lakh) has been allocated for it.

A total of Tk 248,000 will be spent for an exhibition. An estimated cost of Tk 2.11 billion (Tk 210 core and 88 lakh) has been fixed for organising exhibitions of milk products at 2,000 schools. A total of Tk 1,054,000 will be spent for each exhibition.

Centrifuge machines is used for keeping samples after collecting them from humans or animals. The price of a centrifuge machine has been fixed Tk 107,280. Some 19 centrifuge machines will be procured with the project fund. A total of Tk 2,038,000 will be spent for this purpose.

The price of a PH meter, used to measure acidity of a liquid, is estimated at Tk 70,000. However, a PH meter is available for Tk 4,000 in the market.

The price of an autoclave machine is estimated at Tk 9,48,000. But it is available for Tk 50,000 to 200,000 in the market. The price of a digital microscope is estimated Tk 582,000. This is available for Tk 25,00 to 8,000 in Dhaka.

Bangladesh Midistore sells such machinery. An official of this organisation Kamrul Hasan said the lowest price of a centrifuge machine made by China is Tk 3,500.

A total of Tk 4.11 billion will be spent to renovate an infrastructure established for selling meat in the sub district town. The renovation will be done at 192 sub-district towns. A total of Tk 21.4 million (Tk 2 crore and 14 lakh) will be spent for one infrastructure. People concerned said new infrastructures can be built at the cost of the project money.

The cost of a bin for disposing waste from the laboratories is estimated Tk 250,000.

According to e-commerce site Alibaba, it is being sold at Tk 500 to 2,000. A total of Tk 249 million (24 crore and 90 lakh) has been kept for the publicity of the project.

Project director and livestock ministry additional secretary Wasiuddin Ahmed, livestock department services director general Hiresh Ranjan Bhoumik and the livestock department services deputy director have fixed the prices of the procurement for the project. They fixed the price in July last year.

Wasiuddin was not available for comment over the phone and did not reply to text messages. This correspondent attempted to meet him, but failed. Recently the project director has been removed and replaced by joint secretary Abdur Rahim.

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Under the project, there are arrangements of foreign trips. Some 1050 people from the field level will be sent abroad for training on cattle farming.

A total of Tk 555.67 million (55 crore 6 lakh and 65,000) will be spent. Per head expenditure is Tk 524,000.

Senior officials will also go abroad for training on raising cattle. A total of Tk 49.8 million (4 crore and 98 lakh) will be spent for 75 high officials. Per head expenditure is 664,000.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Ifthekharuzzaman said such projects mainly increase the personal wealth of the officials. The public cannot gain from it. On the contrary the public has to pay the loan taken from the World Bank.

He said Bangladesh will make records in corruption if procurement takes place in this way. The project is finally approved after crossing many stages, but no one notices the abnormal prices.

This means a group of corrupt people are working here, Ifthekhar said adding the World Bank also has liability for this.

The World Bank does not follow what it says about corruption, this has been proved through the approval of the procurement of this project. The World Bank and the government should cancel the approval of the procurement, the TIB boss said adding those who are responsible should be brought to book.

The World Bank is providing Tk 38.85 billion (3885 crore) while the government is providing the rest.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam and Toriqul Islam.