The country suffers massive loses as about Tk 480 crore is being drained out annually, thanks to corrupt employees of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Co. Ltd who provides illegal gas connections in exchange for money.
By dint of this practice along with other illegal means, a corrupt Titas staff usually gets an average of Tk 45,000 in bribe. These corrupt employees even accept bribe and rig the system to make sure that household connections have low gas pressure and the high pressure is channeled out to industrial connections.
The graft scenario was revealed by a recent probe anti-graft watchdog Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) conducted on state-owned Titas and its employees. Upon completion of the investigation, the ACC yesterday submitted a report to State Minister of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamim Bipu. In the report, the ACC detailed the types and natures of corruptions into 22 categories.
The report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Independent, pointed out “illegal gas connections” as the most corrupt area of Titas through which costs the country Tk 480 crore annually. The report said Titas incurs over six percent system loss due to these illegal connections and a Titas staff usually gets an average of Tk 45,000 as bribe for providing an illegal connection.
The ACC report said on many occasions, the illegal gas connections, which were cut down on daylight, got reinstated during the “dark of night" by a vested quarter. It also pointed out the “lack of legal measures” in curbing the prevalence of illegal gas connections.
In some instances, industrial connections were given to commercial entities upon taking bribes even though the monthly charge of industrial connections is significantly lower than the commercial connections. The anti-graft watchdog found that many staffers of Titas in and around Dhaka take bribe and bypass the meter to give gas connections.
Many among the Titas staff also intentionally refrained themselves from installing Electronic Volume Collector (EVC) in the gas supply system through which gas pressure and temperature could be accurately measured. The ACC report also detailed how a group of Titas officials, who have postings in the industrial area, continue with the postings for an unusually longer period by greasing palms of higher authorities.
These Titas staff also give approval to gas connections to the boilers and generators in the industrial areas without proper scrutiny and realise monthly bills from those entities through false vouchers, which have no entries in the company"s ledgers.
The ACC report, after analysing the Titas audit report of 2015-16 fiscal year, found that gas worth of Tk 292.95 crore were shown as system loss in just the residential connections. The Titas staff also don"t transfer money from the local bank account to the mother bank account on a timely basis because of which the state coffer is losing a huge sum.
If money is kept on the local account, then the interest rate received is 3.5 per cent but if the same is kept in a mother account then the interest received is eight per cent.
ACC Commissioner Mohammad Mozammel Haque Khan, who handed over the report to the state minister at Bangladesh Secretariat, told the media that the ACC teams identified the source of corruption by reviewing the statements of the beneficiaries, annual reports, and audit reports, information of victims of corruption and irregularities of Titas, and corruption reports published in newspapers.
On the basis of an overall review, the team submitted a 12-point recommendation for the prevention of corruption in the company, he added. The recommendations include speedy supply of pre-paid meters to all types of Titas gas subscribers, the arrangement of sudden and unannounced inter-departmental inspection and following-up on severing of illegal gas connections.
The ACC also recommended enhancing the capacity of the human resources of Titas, taking harsh departmental actions against corrupt employees, and to dispose of the discrepancies found in the audit report in a quick manner.
Nasrul Hamid, while receiving the report, told the media that the report ACC handed him is extensive in nature.
“Before the last national election, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had declared of taking a zero tolerance stance against corruption of the government officials. This ACC report against Titas is a part of that.” Hamid also said that ACC is not only working on the graft in gas sector, rather it is also working on the electricity sector as well. “Very soon, that report will be handed over to me,” he said.