Tuesday, 29 November, 2022

CAAB declines to waive Biman surcharge

Instead, it wants Biman to clear its Tk 8,081cr dues

  • Rajib Kanti Roy
  • 11th November, 2022 09:59:53 PM
  • Print news
CAAB declines to waive Biman surcharge

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  • National flag carrier owes CAAB Tk 3,449cr as surcharge

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has declined to entertain a proposal of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism to waive Tk 3,449 crore as surcharge Biman Bangladesh Airlines owes to it, terming it illogical.

Instead, it has sought the ministry’s intervention to realise its arrears to the tune of Tk 8,081 crore from the national flag carrier.

The ministry has decided to waive Tk 3,449 crore as surcharge following a request made by Biman. The surcharge accumulated on dues at a rate of 6 percent.

In a letter signed by its Deputy Secretary Mohammad Abdul Awal, the ministry on October 20 instructed the CAAB to take necessary measures to waive the surcharge and sought its opinion on the matter.

The ministry’s instruction came after Biman Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Zahid Hossain sent a letter to it seeking its interference over the matter.

However, the CAAB is unwilling to waive the surcharge.

Rather, it has sought the intervention of the ministry to collect all dues, including surcharge, from Biman in a letter sent by CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman on November 1.

In the letter, the CAAB chairman sought ministry’s intervention to ensure timely collection of monthly current bills and Tk 8,080.87 crore in arrears as of June 30, 2022 from Biman on an urgent basis.

Expressing apprehension, he said if the surcharge is waived, different development activities of CAAB may be affected. “CAAB is currently implementing several important mega projects with its own financing, foreign debt, government loan and financial grants. Of these, Tk 21,399.6 crore will be spent on JICA-financed Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Development (first phase) Project. And Tk 16,902.79 crore will have to be paid to the government treasury against two loan agreements already executed in accordance with it,” the letter mentioned.

“The principal and interest of the first tranche of JICA loan of the project amounting to Tk 1,302 crore has to be deposited in the government treasury by December 1, 2024. Apart from this, about Tk 900 crore has to be deposited in the government exchequer on an average every year for DSL in the following years.”

CAAB also said the amount of dues mentioned in the Biman’s letter sent to the ministry is incorrect. “In the letter sent by Biman on September 15 to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, the accumulated arrears of Tk 4,744.74 crore have been mentioned, which is not correct. In fact, as of June 30, 2022, the accumulated arrears of CAAB to Biman are Tk 8,080.87 crore,” the CAAB chairman wrote in the letter.

The letter also mentioned that the authorities have a huge financial burden in carrying out the ongoing development projects under its own financing, including salary and allowances of manpower, operating expenses, repair and maintenance expenses and payment of NTR and income tax.

Biman has been claiming itself as a profitable company by showing operating profit on paper for the past few years.

At a press conference on October 13, Biman’s MD said the state-owned airline earned Tk 1,563 crore as sales revenue in the last three months breaking all previous records.

When contacted, Zahid Hossain declined to make any comment on the CAAB’s letter sent to the ministry opposing the waiver of the surcharge.

Talking about the dues of Biman, CAAB Chairman Mafidur Rahman said, “Even if the surcharge is excluded, Biman is not paying the original dues. Biman is not even making any commitment as to when it will clear payment of the principal amount. It won’t able to pay all the dues in a day. The dues have been asked to be paid in installments every month.”