Mega theft at Biman: Who will take liability of loss worth billions 

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

All the corruption allegations found and proved against officials of Biman Bangladesh Airlines till date have established the commonly-accepted logical general idea that wherever you look into this agency, you’ll find corruption and irregularities. Yet another report of irregularities published in Prothom Alo has strengthened the aforementioned narrative even further.

The report published in Prothom Alo shows that Biman Bangladesh Airlines is falling into huge amount of financial losses because of ‘fraudulent’ contracts in buying different services including control of ticket sales on online platforms. The amount of losses will reach Tk 10.76 billion (1,076 crore) in a decade.

As per the audit report of government’s Commercial Audit Directorate, the financial proposal prior to the agreement underrated the cost against certain services and included hidden expenditure for some other services.

Then again, expenditure for some services has been mentioned in the agreement without including those on the financial proposal. There are allegations that several officials including a current director of Biman are involved in this scam.

It can be seen that Biman signed a ten-year contract with software and technological service providing company Sabre Global Incorporation in September 2021.

According to the contract, Biman Bangladesh Airlines will get services like global distribution system (GDS) to be used by agents involved in ticket booking and sales, passenger service system (PSS) used in ticket sales of the airlines, departure control system (DCS) related to other service management including airport check-in and boarding pass related to departure control system (DCS), e-commerce and loyalty services from this company.

As reported in Prothom Alo, prior to this contract it had been shown before Biman’s board of directors that Tk 2.82 billion (282 crore) have to be paid to that company in ten years to buy these services. The board of directors also approved the agreement accordingly.

The audit conducted recently found that the agreement has been finalised in such a way that Biman would have to pay a total of Tk 13.58 billion (1,358 crore) in ten years for these services, which is Tk 10.76 billion (1,076 crore) more than the board of directors-approved expenditure.

Even the law wasn’t followed in signing the contract with that company. The law says that if the number of participating companies in the short list of tender bidding is less than four, the tender has to be floated again. There were three companies in the short list here and the authorities set conditions in such a way that only the aforementioned company can be selected.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines is a state-owned company. It is not someone’s personal property that it can be run willfully. A number of phases have to be passed before finalising a contract with an agency. Several committees are there and the final decision is supposed to be taken only after being inspected by these committees.

But that was not followed in this case and that’s why billions of taka has to be counted in losses. It’s also unfortunate that no investigation committee being formed till now even after news concerning this being published in the media.So, is there anyone among Biman’s high officials who are shielding these irregularities and corruptions?

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman was right to say that mega thefts are going on in Biman. Irregularities and corruption are going on everywhere starting from airplane purchase to ticket sales.

Let people involved with ‘fraudulent’ contracts in buying different services including control of ticket sales on online platforms, be brought to justice. And let Biman, upholding the national flag carrier be freed from corruption.