Sheikh Hasina plans "bold move" on gas to India

Vol 4, PW 24 (17 Jan 01) People & Policy

With just six months to go before general elections in Bangladesh, leaders of the ruling Awami League party of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are promising "bold initiatives" on the gas export issue should the party return to power for a second term.

"If we win this election, Hasina will take some bold measures," a relative of Sheikh Hasina and leading figure in the Awami League tells Petrowatch on condition of anonymity, "We will definitely take a positive decision on selling gas to India. We know we cannot use all this gas here but we want to avoid a controversy before the elections." Another senior Awami League minister confirmed that gas exports to India is likely.

"An assessment about our reserves and the present demand is nearing completion," he said, "It shows that we have some surplus for export." The minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his government wanted to avoid talking about gas ahead of elections, as this would spark controversy. "Don't expect anythingin the first half of this year," he said, "We are too busy preparing for elections.

We must crush the fundamentalists and the opposition parties. After that we will take some bold decisions on the gas export issue." Opposition parties, meanwhile, are circulating rumours that Hasina's party is collecting millions of dollars from multinational oil and gas companies to fight the elections by promising them facilities to export to India once she wins.

The rumours are naturally unsubstantiated.