Dhaka, Jan 26 (UNB) - Though BNP senior leaders remained united for a long time in absence of its chairperson Khaleda Zia, a crack now has apparently developed among them over its leadership and party overhauling, worrying its already demoralised grassroots.
Party insiders said some BNP standing committee members want a change in the party leadership, including the post of party secretary general, through holding a council to stage a comeback in politics after the drubbing in the 11th parliamentary election.
But most party policymakers are unwilling to hold the council keeping Khaleda Zia in jail. They think their party should now focus on finding ways to have their chairperson released from jail alongside reorganising the party grassroots.
BNP senior leaders are also divided over the issue of maintaining their unity with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikyafront and keeping Jamaat in the 20-Party Alliance.
Under the circumstances, the party grassroots leaders think, a new charismatic and well-reputed face like Dr Zubaida Rahman should now take the helm of the party for removing the misunderstanding among the senior leaders and revitalising the dispirited party leaders and activists in obscene of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting chairman Tarique Rahman.
As per the BNP’s constitution, the party will have to hold its national council after every three years. But the party repeatedly violated such provision in holding the councils in the past.
BNP’s last council was held on March 19, 2016 where Khaleda Zia was reelected party chairperson while Tarique Rahman and Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were made senior vice chairman and secretary general respectively.
A BNP standing committee member, wishing anonymity, said BNP standing committee members Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Moudud Ahmed along with some vice chairmen took a position against party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and they want a change in the post of party secretary general, and some other ones through a council.
He, however, said other standing committee members are still backing Fakhrul.
The BNP leader said the BNP group, led by Mosharraf and Moudud, also wants BNP to focus on its own organisation now and prepare the party for waging a strong mass movement against the government instead of spending time on strengthening Oikyafront.
“But Mirza Fakhrul and other senior leaders think their party should work for strengthening the party and forging a greater unity by making Oikyafront stronger further,” the BNP leader said.
Besides, he said, as Mosharraf and Moudud are unwilling to be there in Oikyafront’s steering committee, their party is going to replace them with BNP standing committee members Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan.
The rift among the BNP senior leaders got exposed for the first time on January 18 last as Moudud and Mosharraf at a discussion suggested a change in the party leadership through holding a council.
Meanwhile, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday alleged that many plots are now on to weaken BNP and split it.
Contacted, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said they talked about party overhauling through a council, but they do not have any intra-party conflict. “I don’t want to say anything more about it.”
Asked about Fakhrul’s comment over the plots to split BNP, he said their secretary general indicated that the government, not any BNP leader, is conspiring to divide BNP.
Asked when their council may be held, Moudud declined to make any comment on it.
Another BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said their party is going to take steps for holding the council as soon as possible in a bid to reorganise it.
“I think young and new leaders should be brought in the frontline of the party leadership through the council to strengthen the party,” he said.
Mahbub, however, was unwilling to make any comment over the conflict among the party senior leaders and the conspiracy against the party.
Mohammadpur unit BNP president Haji Mohammad Yusuf said it is usual to create misunderstanding among the senior leaders in absence of their chairperson and acting chairman. “I think Dr Zubaida Rahman should now take the charge of the party to keep BNP united and revitalise its demoralised party grassroots. She’s a very capable and well-educated person to deal with the current situation as I saw her during the 1/11 political changeover,” he added.
Echoing Yusuf’s view, ex-Dhaka city unit BNP office secretary Shamsul Alam said Dr Zubaida will be the best suitable option for their party to strengthen it now and take it forward.
Khulna, Jan 25 (UNB) – “Sundarban”, a new brand of bottled water under the Bottled Water Treatment Plant (BWTP) project of Khulna Water and Sewerage Authority (KWASA), is going to be launched in February next.
Construction of buildings housing the treatment plant, installation of all machinery for the production of bottles, water treatment, filling, and level attaching process are complete.
Managing Director of Khulna Wasa Md Abdullah said test production will start in the last week of this month. If everything goes well, Sundarban bottled water will start selling commercially in February.
Initially, the consumers will get to buy Sundarban at the same retail price as other brands already in the market, but the wholesalers can buy at a lower price.
Sources said the initiative to set up a bottled water treatment plant was undertaken in 2015. KWASA selected a site in Rayermahal in the city to locate the plant and a Tk 19.75 crore installation agreement was signed with Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory (BMTF) in 2016.
Water will be lifted from the ground, and it will be treated to make it drinkable and then be bottled.
The bottle production facility is located on the same compound as the treatment plant.
According to the agreement, 8,000 litres of water will be produced an hour at the plant.
Every day, some 64,000 litres of water will be prepared to supply to market in 148,880 containers of 7 sizes -- measuring 300ml, 500ml, 1 litre, 2 litres, 3 litres, 5 litres and 20 litres.
During a recent visit, the UNB correspondent found the construction work on a power sub-station for the plant is almost complete.
Director of WASA water supply project Khan Selim Ahammad said the entire manufacturing process, including the bottle production, water treatment and bottling, will be an automated one.
“We’ll be ready within 15 days,” he said confidently.
Dhaka, Jan 25 (UNB) – Preparations are going on in full swing for Bangladesh’s biggest literary festival, the month-long ‘Amar Ekushey Boimela’, scheduled to begin on February 1 at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan and Bangla Academy premises.
“This year’s fair will be bigger than ever before and have a more reader-friendly atmosphere,” said poet Habibullah Siraji, the director general of Bangla Academy.
The theme for this year is ‘Bijoy: 1952 to 1971 Ebong Naboporjay’, said Dr Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the fair’s organising committee.
Works on the stalls and the main stage are almost finished.
Siraji said the area of last year’s fair was extended with the increase in number of stalls. In 2018, the land earmarked for the fair was expanded to 5,50,000 square feet – 37,000 sq feet more than the year before.
This year, architect Enamul Karim Nirjhor is focusing on the glass tower of Suhrawardy Udyan so that light from it showers the whole area. Nirapad Media and Communication, run by actor Ilias Kanchan, will oversee the total management of the fair.
Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair throughout the month wherein freedom fighters, researchers and organisers of Liberation War will participate.
Hopes of buoyant sales
Publishing houses, including 19 new ones, have been allotted over 600 stalls and around 42 pavilions. More than 100 stalls have been earmarked for government and non-government organisations on the academy premises, Bangla Academy sources said.
The number of pavilions will remain the same this year. Bangla Academy and 23 publishing houses have been allotted pavilions. Apart from them, 593 units have been distributed among 338 publishing houses at Suhrawardy Udyan.
Publishers are working round the clock to get the books ready. The academy said 4,591 new titles will hit the fair. Writers and publishers are busy promoting their books on the social media.
Last year, the month-long event ended with a record Tk 70.54 crore sales. The amount was Tk 65.40 crore in 2017, Tk 40.50 crore in 2016 and Tk 21.95 crore in 2015, according to Bangla Academy information centre.
Publishers said they were hoping for a buoyant sale this time, too.
Bangla Academy has launched an online application system for publications for the first time while GPS has been added to assist visitors locate their desired stalls.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the fair on February 1 while two honorary guests — Indian poet Shanka Ghosh and Egyptian writer and poet Mohsin Al Arishi – will grace the opening ceremony.
Chattogram, Jan 24 (UNB) – A case filed over the killing of 24 people attending Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina’s rally in 1988 is yet to be resolved.
The people were killed when police fired indiscriminately on a procession led by Sheikh Hasina during the rule of military strongman HM Ershad.
Residents of the district have been observing January 24 as the ‘Mass Killing Day’. On Thursday morning, members of Awami League’s local unit and various cultural and social organisations paid tributes to the victims placing wreaths at a monument at the court building intersection.
A case was filed four years later on March 5, 1992, by lawyer Shahidul Huda with the Chittagong Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court against 46 people, including then police commissioner Kazi Raqibul Huda.
Divisional Special Judge Court’s Special Public Prosecutor Advocate Mejbah Uddin Chowdhury said the case proceedings were nearing end.
But three of the eight charge-sheeted accused are reportedly dead. The lawyer of main accused Huda told the court that his client had died in the US and produced a death certificate.
The court sought police report on the matter. The police report too claimed Huda is dead. But the prosecution appealed against it and the court sought a report through the Home Ministry on Huda’s death. The report has not been filed yet.
The charge-sheet in the case was submitted in 1996 and charges were framed in May 2000. Among the 168 witnesses, only 41 have testified before the court so far.
What happened in Chattogram?
In 1988, Awami League chief Hasina, then leader of an alliance of 15 opposition parties, was heading towards Laldighi Maidan in a procession to attend a scheduled rally against the misrule of military dictator Ershad.
The autocratic government had deployed hundreds of police in and around Laldighi and other areas of the city to thwart the rally.
Without any provocation, police opened fire on Hasina’s motorcade and the people following it. Hasina survived the attempt on her life but 24 general people died. More than 300 others were also injured.
To destroy evidence, most of the bodies were cremated, irrespective of the victims’ religion, at the Abhaymitra crematorium amid tight police cordon.
Dhaka, Jan 24 (UNB) - The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is going to form a taskforce to identify the foreign nationals working in Bangladesh to bring them under the tax net.
There will be representatives of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), National Security Intelligence (NSI) and police in the taskforce apart from the NBR.
"This taskforce will mainly work at the field level and conduct drives to identify the foreigners working here," a senior NBR official told UNB.
The taskforce will take the help of technology to find out the entry and of exit of foreign nationals, their places of stay and number of their entries to Bangladesh, he said.
The senior NBR official at its income tax wing said currently, there is no well-managed specific data in the country about the foreign nationals staying in the country.
In 2016, the revenue collecting authority took a move to this end but to no avail.
At that time, it found some 30 companies that engaged foreign nationals in various types of jobs. Besides, tax officials established booths at airports and land ports, but the initiatives did not bring any positive result.
NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan at a recent programme said they wanted to bring the foreign nationals under the tax net. "Some foreign nationals work in Bangladesh after arriving here on tourist visas. This should be stopped," he had said.
According to statistics placed by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan in the 10th Parliament on February 8, 2018, some 85,486 foreign nationals of 44 countries are involved in various types of jobs here legally.
Of them, 35,386 Indians are engaged in jobs here which is the highest from a single country. Foreigners from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, South Korea and some European and African countries are also working in Bangladesh.
Of the total numbers, 67,853 are businessmen, 8,300 experts, 3,682 officials, 2,105 players and sports organisers, 922 capital investors, 804 personal staff, 727 technical professionals, 561 NGO workers, 400 research or training staff and 132 are house assistants.
According to the Bida, the number of work-permit takers in Bangladesh is 7,034 while the number of electronic tax identification number (e-TIN) holders is 12,041.
But the NBR thinks the actual number of foreign nationals engaged in jobs in Bangladesh will be 4-5 times higher.
The decision to form the taskforce was taken at an NBR board meeting held recently at its conference room with its chairman in the chair.
“The NBR has the information that a good number of foreign nationals are staying in the country without valid documents and engaged in service in various trades. However, local business entities don’t give information about their foreign employees to the NBR. As a result, the country is depriving of taxes,” the NBR official said.
To stop the evasion of tax by the foreigners, a new section has also been added to the Income Tax Ordinance in 2015-16 under which one will be jailed for three months to three years and panelised Tk 5 lakh or both if he/she appoints any foreigners without prior permission of the authorities concerned. The companies will also lose tax holiday or exemption benefits.
All the foreigners are bound to pay 30 percent tax on their income if they stay and work in the country for 90 days a year.