Deputy Opposition Leader in Parliament GM Quader on Monday said the provision allowing wholesale whitening of black money should be scrapped from the upcoming national budget for 2020-21 fiscal year.
“If possible, this provision should be cancelled since not so much money will be earned from it. If it can’t be scrapped totally for the sake of collection of some revenues, some conditions can be attached to this scope,” he said participating in the general discussion on the proposed national budget for 2020-21 fiscal year.
Citing examples for the conditions, he said the provision can be kept for the money earned in valid ways, but became black as tax was not paid or the black money can be whitened if the money is invested in job creation or contributes to gaining momentum in business.
“If such conditions are attached to the provision, there’ll be justifications (of keeping this provision) to some extent,” said the Jatiya Party Chairman.
He said the money owners don’t feel an urgency to whiten their money unless an environment is created that they would face music and they’ve no scope to dodge taxes.
GM Quader said all the governments since independence kept the provision of whitening black money on various conditions almost always.
But only Tk 16,000 crore was whitened till now. Of the amount, Tk 9,000 crore was whitened alone during the one-eleven caretaker government, he said.
The Deputy Opposition Leader demanded a coordination committee to monitor block allocations for ensuring transparency in the costs of the money.
“If block allocation is made without any specific plan, it won’t be possible to have control over the expenditures from the allocation. There is a tendency to spend money on an ad hoc basis,” he said adding that the expenditures of doctors and health workers of Dhaka Medical College for two month is Tk 20 crore or like that amount. Their food cost was half of the amount, he added.
“We don’t know what amount from the money is used for the actual causes and what amount was wasted or embezzled,” GM Quader said.
He suggested the government can place a revised budget in Parliament after six months reviewing the revenue collection and expenditures.
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Monday demanded legal action against those responsible for the launch capsize in the Buriganga River that left 30 people dead.
In a statement, he also urged the government to form an ‘effective probe’ committee to unearth what really caused the accident.
“The unexpected loss of lives in the launch capsize incident can’t be accepted in any way. Legal action must be taken against the real culprits so that such tragic incident doesn’t recur in the future,” Quader said.
He also demanded the government ensure logical compensation for the family members of those killed and injured in the incident.
The Jatiya Party Chairman expressed deep sorrow over the huge loss of lives in the incident.
He prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls and conveyed his profound sympathy to the bereaved families.
The double-deck ‘Morning Bird’ launch coming from Munshiganj sank in the Buriganga River after being hit by Chandpur-bound vessel ‘Mayur-2’ while anchoring the Kathpatti ghat on Monday morning, killing at least 30 people.
Meanwhile, Shipping Ministry formed a seven-member probe body, headed by joint secretary Rafiqul Islam Khan, over the incident.
The committee has been asked to submit its report within seven working days.
BNP on Monday described the government’s decision to shut down state-owned jute mills sending around 25,000 workers into early retirement through 'golden handshake' as an anti-people one.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing from BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi also urged the government to move away from such a decision to lay off the jute workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The government’s decision to close the state-owned jute mills and lay off the workers through golden handshake is an anti-people move. No one, except the mass enemy, can take such a decision,” he said.
The BNP leader said the jute mills closure will only put the already struggling workers into a serious trouble. “People won’t accept this anti-people decision of the authoritarian Awami government.”
On Sunday, Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said the State-owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) will be halting operations to stop staggering losses.
He said around Tk 5,000 crore will be provided from the government budget over the matter and all arrears of 8,954 workers who retired since 2014 will be cleared, he said, adding that all the overtime dues, PF fund, gratuity and highest 27 percent of gratuity will be paid to the present workforce numbering 24,886.
Rizvi alleged that the country’s traditional jute sector is now on the verge of ruination only because of the government’s wrong policy and mismanagement.
He said Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) continues to incur heavy losses due to corruption, plundering, wrong policies and inefficient administration. “But the workers are not responsible for it.”
Rizvi said many workers, both in formal and informal sectors, have become jobless while many expatriates who returned home also become unemployed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Under such a situation, the BNP leader said, the government’s decision to close the jute mills is inhumane. “The so-called pro-liberation regime has taken the move going against the spirit of the Liberation War.”
He said it is the responsibility of the relevant ministry and BJMC to find markets for jute abroad, diversify jute products and take steps to overcome the losses. “But the workers won’t take any responsibility for the losses.”
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday alleged that the government neither has any roadmap nor effective plan to prevent coronavirus.
“The Directorate General of Health Services couldn’t yet come up with any guideline while there's no roadmap and effective plan to tackle the Covid-19,” he said.
Fakhrul made the remarks while inaugurating a free medical camp through virtual event organised by Jatiyatabadi Homoeopathic Chikitsak Dal at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office.
The BNP leader said the Chinese medical experts who visited Bangladesh a few days back also observed that the government’s steps are "haphazard" in dealing with the virus, and there is no measure to detect the areas where the virus is spreading fast.
He said the entire health system in the country has completely collapsed due to "mismanagement, irregularities and the government’s negligence".
“The country is now facing the worst situation as the government couldn't take proper steps and right decisions to get rid of the Covid-19.”
“Even, the Dhaka North City Mayor yesterday (Saturday) said it is imperative to enforce lockdown in red zones without any further delay,” Fakhrul said.
He said the government has long been saying that different areas will be categorised as the red, yellow and green zones, and lockdown will be strictly enforced in the red zones in Dhaka city.
“I don't know whether it happened anywhere, except West Rajabazar, only because of an anarchic situation and lack of coordination. I think, the government doesn't even know what they are going to do, what they want to do,” the BNP leader observed.
Fakhrul regretted that the government has ignored the deadly global pandemic from the very beginning with a political motive.
Referring to the government's incentive package to combat coronavirus fallout, he said it was basically a bank loan, but the government should have given more importance to humanitarian assistance at this moment.
Fakhrul said the government has also failed to meet the basic needs of the people who have become jobless due to the coronavirus outbreak.
He said though the Prime Minister announced to provide 50 lakh needy families with Tk 25,00, those who were supposed to receive the money did not get it due to "politicisation".
The BNP leader alleged that the government did not give enough budgetary allocation for the health sector to tackle the coronavirus.
He said though people are going through serious sufferings in undergoing corona tests, the government did not approve Gonoshasthaya Kendra’s testing kit just to protect the interest of the syndicates that indulge in corruption in the name of kit procurement.
“This is unfortunate that the corruption is going on unabated in the health sector at this bad time of the country since the current unelected government has no accountability to people,” Fakhrul observed.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Friday accused the BNP of taking the side of people spreading rumours and hatred.
“The words of BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir imply that they’re taking the side of rumour-mongers,” he said while talking to reporters after a meeting with filmmakers at Awami League President’s Political Office in Dhanmondi.
Recently, Mirza Fakhrul said the government had come up reckless on the dissents even during the coronavirus pandemic.
While his attention was drawn to the allegation, the Information Minister retorted: “If spreading rumour and hatred on social media becomes dissent, then his statement justifies those who spread rumours and hatred.”
Pointing out that BNP leaders are arbitrarily criticising the government, Mahmud, also joint general secretary of ruling Awami League, said this would not happen if government was intolerant to dissent.
“The government never tried to suppress dissent, nor will do. Rather, the government thinks that there must be different opinions as per the constitution,” he added.
Dr Hasan Mahmud disclosed the ministry’s decision to subsidise more films than before in a bid to help the coronavirus-affected film industry.
Among the filmmakers, Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, Giyasuddin Selim, and Piplu Khan were present.