BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday said the government is putting pressure on people to pay various taxes and utility bills at a time when it should put those on hold.
"Electricity bills, income tax, advance income tax, municipal tax and other taxes should be stopped at this difficult time as it has now become impossible for people to pay that,” he said.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, the BNP leader voiced concern saying, “These taxes and bills are now being imposed on people and they’re being forced to pay that.’
Even at this tough time of coronavirus, Fakhrul said, ghost electricity bills are being prepared to collect additional money from people. “A bill of Tk 5,000-6,000 is being inflated to Tk 35,000-40,000. We strongly condemn it.”
He demanded the government immediately halt the collection of these bills for the time being and revise the unusually inflated bills.
About the corona situation, the BNP leader said their party leaders and activists have continued their financial and food assistance to the needy people.
He claimed that their party and its different associate bodies have provided financial assistance and food items to 54,12, 416 families across the country from March 20 to June 24 last.
Fakhrul also claimed that around 2,16,49, 084 people have got benefited from their party’s relief activities.
Besides, he said, different pro-BNP organisations, including Doctors' Association of Bangladesh-DAB, Ziaur Rahman Foundation, have also distributed several lakh masks, sanitisers, soaps and PPEs.
The BNP leader bemoaned that many virtuous and talented people have succumbed to the coronavirus in the country. “We know it is not possible for the government alone to get out of this situation. They (govt) could not show the sincerity that is needed to deal with the dangerous corona situation. They didn't play the role they were supposed to do.”
Replying to a question, Fakhrul said they have taken all the necessary measures to protect their party chairperson Khaleda Zia from corona infection. “She’s safe from corona.”
He, however, said there is no improvement in her illness as she now cannot receive necessary treatment due to the coronavirus situation.
Jatiya Party chairman GM Quader on Thursday said people are going through serious sufferings amid the rise in coronavirus infections for lack of testing facilities in every district.
“The testing capacity has not enhanced at the rate at which corona infections have been. So, many people having the symptoms of the virus are being harassed while undergoing tests,” he said.
In a video message, he further said, “Although corona testing facilities are available in the capital and divisional cities, the general people are being deprived of such facilities at the district level. So, it has now become imperative to set up RT-PCR labs in every district.”
GM Quader said it now takes 10 to 15 days to get the corona test results due to the poor testing capacity of the country. “It’s seen, the infected persons transmit the virus among many other people before receiving the test results.”
He said the infected people will get proper treatment and the number of infections will be reduced if the testing capacity is increased further and extended to the district level.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday alleged that the government has got desperate to attain its goal of depoliticisation in the country by eliminating opposition parties.
In a statement, he also said the government has become reckless in arresting BNP leaders and activists and sending them to jail alongside killing and making them disappeared only out of political vengeance.
The statement was issued protesting the jailing of Kushtia Sadar Upazila Jubo Dal president Jahidul Islam Biplob after arresting him in a ‘false’ case on Tuesday.
“I strongly condemn and protest the arrest and jailing of Biplob,” Fakhrul said.
He said the government is arresting the BNP leaders and activists at a time when they are standing beside people and extending their helping hands towards the poor and destitute at this time of coronavirus disaster.
Fakhrul said the motive behind the arrest of BNP leaders and activists by the government is to cement its power for a long time.
He, however, said people are getting united against the ‘fascist’ rule of the current government as their backs have been pushed against the wall.
The BNP leader said Jubo Dal leader Biplob has been arrested and sent to jail due to political vengeance.
He demanded the government immediately release him after withdrawing the ‘false’ case filed against him.
BNP on Wednesday threatened to wage a strong movement if the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is passed in Parliament.
“The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Bill-2020 which was placed in Parliament on Tuesday has manifested that the present government is not only an enemy of people but also a cruel and imprudent regime,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
He further said, “Passing this bill to increase the tariffs of electricity and fuel frequently in a year means to push the poor towards meeting the watery grave. We strongly condemn the bill. We urge the ruling party not to pass it in Parliament. Otherwise, we’ll be forced to launch a strong movement during this corona period.”
The BNP leader came up with the remarks at a virtual press briefing from the party’s Nayapaltan central office.
On Tuesday, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid placed the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in Parliament to empower the BERC to make any change in tariff more than once in every financial year.
Currently, the law permits BERC to make any change in tariff once in a financial year.
Rizvi said the government is trying to fill the empty coffers by collecting money from people through increasing the prices of electricity and fuel more than once a year.
“Even at this time of corona pandemic, they (govt) are collecting money exploiting and sucking the blood of jobless and incomeless people,” he alleged.
The BNP leader said the low-income people have been left in the lurch due to the harassment of the ghost electricity bills. “The country’s people will be pushed into a hell if the prices of electricity and fuel are frequently raised in every financial year.”
He said the government has become desperate to realise money from people like a drug addict in this critical time of the country.
Rizvi criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for what he said making ‘indecent and untrue’ remarks in Parliament on Tuesday about BNP founder Ziaur Rahman involving him with the murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “We denounce her comments in this regard.”
Harunur Rashid, BNP's MP from Chapainawabganj-3, on Tuesday said some media wrongly reported that he joined parliament wearing a 'Mujib coat', but it was a 'waistcoat'.
“I wore a blue colour waistcoat over Punjabi as many used to do it. There is nothing new. Why should I wear a Mujib coat being a BNP MP? " he told UNB amid controversy over his dress.
Harun said some media wrongly ran repots about his dress seeing him on television as reporters are now not allowed to cover the budget session due to coronavirus.
“I’s belittled me with such a report... it’s regrettable,” the MP said.
He said he was elected MP with BNP’s ticket and he believes in the ideology of Ziaur Rahman and the party he founded.
Earlier in the day, Harun demanded the removal of Health Minister Zahid Maleque and bringing competent and committed persons in key posts of the health sector to face the coronavirus situation.
He made the demand taking part in the general discussion on the proposed national budget for 2020-21 fiscal year in Parliament.