BPC's 'payment automation' launch hits snag

FE Report | Published: June 24, 2019 09:47:51

Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected

The launch of planned 'payment automation' of state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) is facing hurdles due to opposition from certain quarter.

As a result, its planned launching on July 01 has already been deferred.

A committee headed by director marketing of the BPC is currently scrutinising the pros and cons of the automation, said a senior BPC official Sunday.

The BPC awarded the task of developing software to a local company-Computer Network Systems (CNS) -- for full automation of the BPC's payment system.

Sources said, the CNS has almost completed developing the software for its smooth launching within the scheduled timeframe.

The BPC is the biggest company of the country with an annual turnover of over Tk 500 billion (US$ 6.0 billion).

The Ministry of Finance, the major fund provider of the BPC's oil trading, has long been pressing for automation of the company's payment and operations.

But a vested quarter has long been active to delay the automation process, it has been alleged.

Once the automation is launched, the BPC will get payments of its oil sales from the state-run petroleum products marketing and distribution companies within four days, said officials.

Currently, the petroleum products marketing and distribution companies take as long as 10 months for making payments of oil sales to the BPC.

The payment automation would increase the availability of the BPC's fund to help importing petroleum products from the international market.

It would also help check 'oil pilferage,' by a vested group.

Officials said, after initiating the move of 'payment automation' the state-run petroleum products marketing and distribution companies paid around Tk 30 billion worth of pending payments to the BPC over the past several months.

They said the BPC has also planned to be fully automated in terms of measuring its petroleum products along with their loading and unloading with the development of the operational software, he added.

Currently, the BPC conducts its entire work manually. It carries out loading and unloading of petroleum products as well as receives and makes payments against oil trading in the same manner.

Since initiation of its operations there have been a lot of allegations and incidences of oil pilferage and theft of the BPC's petroleum products and embezzlement of its funds due to absence of any automated system, industry insiders said.

The BPC purchases petroleum products from international market and sells those at the government-fixed rates in the country.

The movement of oil prices in international market helps the BPC attain profit or incur loss.

The BPC imported 6.7 million tonnes of different petroleum products in fiscal year (FY) 2018, including diesel, jet fuel, furnace oil and octane. In FY 2019, it might require to import around 7.5 million tonnes of petroleum products.



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