Make draft papers public before signing deals with foreign firms: Roundtable urges government
September 29, 2007
Star Business Report
The government needs to make draft agreement papers public before striking any deal with foreign companies, speakers told a roundtable in Dhaka yesterday.
Had the people been made aware of terms of contracts earlier, the country would have benefited from deals with international oil and gas and mobile phone companies, they added.
"We were able to make the government not sign Policy Support Instrument (PSI) deal with the IMF (International Monitory Fund) because we came to know that it was not beneficial for the country," said economist Professor Abu Ahmed.
Campaign on Citizen's Right to Information, a platform for free flow of information, organised the roundtable as part of its three-day programme to mark International Right to Know Day. 'Development and Investment Deals: Citizens' Right to Know' was the title of the discussion presided over by former adviser to the caretaker government SM Shahjahan.
"Now, the mobile phone companies repatriate all of their profits to their home countries. But there was no mandatory provision in the licences to offload a part of their shares in capital market for the benefit of local people," Abu Ahmed further said. "The government signs different deals with the IMF and the World Bank and other international financial organisations but it [the government] does not discuss the deals in parliament," Saiful Haque, general secretary of Workers Party, said.
"We get a few information from the government but we do not get any information from the international financial organisations such as IMF and WB," said Ahmed Swapan, executive director of Voice, an NGO.
He also urged the government to enact law forcing the international organisations to provide required information.
MM Akash, professor of economics at Dhaka University, Abdul Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa), among others, spoke.