Dhaka, Nov 25 (UNB) – Having everything in motion, BNP is going to formally start issuing nomination letters on Monday to the candidates its board selected for contesting the forthcoming national election.
Talking to UNB, a number of senior BNP leaders on Sunday said they may start the distribution process at their chairperson’s Gulshan office.
“We’ll formally issue nomination letters tomorrow (Monday),” said BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed.
Another party standing committee member, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, said they have finalised the list of their party candidates. “We’re now in discussions with our partners of the Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party.”
He said their party standing committee nominated the candidates based on their competence, capability and popularity.
Party insiders said some of its leaders informally received their nomination letters on Sunday night while most of the nomination hopefuls are staying in the capital city to get the party tickets on Monday.
They said the party may first distribute the nomination letters among the candidates who are from remote districts.
The BNP leaders also hinted that 150-200 nomination seekers will be given party tickets on the first day while the rest will get those later.
A party standing committee member said they mainly have given importance to BNP’s candidates in the 2001 and 2008 general elections apart from reports on party internal surveys in selecting the contenders for the upcoming national election.
He said they will also keep some dummy candidates in different seats.
However, the BNP leader said their many old candidates will not get nomination this time in the seats of the capital as many of those will be shared with different components of the Oikyafront and the 20-party alliances.
He said the heavyweight candidates of their two alliances will contest the election in 5-7 seats in the capital.
BNP leaders said they also keep dummy candidates in the seats they will share with their alliance partners.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir along with some senior leaders held a meeting at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office on Sunday night and discussed various issues relating to sharing seats with the alliance partners.
A leader close to Fakhrul said, “The BNP leader signed the nomination letters of the 200 selected candidates of the party at the night.”
He said the BNP standing committee decided to share nearly 10 seats with Gano Forum, three each with Nagorik Oikya, JSD and Krishak Sramik Janata League while 40 seats with the 20-party alliance partners.
However, all the alliance partners are demanding more seats.
Of the 20-party partners, Jamaat alone wants at least 35 seats from BNP, but the party is not willing to give the Islamic party more than 25 seats.
Another 20-party component LDP wants six seats, but BNP agrees to share four seats with the party, led by Oli Ahmed.
Besides, BNP decided to share Bhola-1 with BJP chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho, Chattogram-5 with Kalyan Party Chairman Syed Mohammad Ibrahim, Panchagrah-2 with Jagpa’s Tasmina Prodhan, Niphamari-1 with People’s Party of Bangladesh’s Rita Rahman, Jashore-5 and Sunamganj-3 with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Mufti Wakkas and Shanur Pasha respectively and Jashore-4 with Minority Janata Party’s Supriti Kumar Mandol.
Besides, the party may share Habiganj-4 with Khelaft Majlish secretary general Ahmed Abul Quader while Narail-2 with NPP’s Fariduzzaman Farhad, Gaibandha-3 with Japa (Zafar) TI Fazle Rabbi and Pirojpur-1 with the same party’s Mostafa Jamal Haider.
Some other alliance partners are also still bargaining with BNP to have at least one more seat, but BNP high-ups are trying to woo them with giving various promises.
Dhaka, Nov 25 (UNB) –The 300 MW power plant project in Anwara upazila of Chattagram failed to make any significant progress in two years as United Group, which was awarded contract by the government, completed only 10 percent of the project since 2016.
Referring to a progress report placed at a review meeting last month, Power Division officials said, the company achieved 10 percent progress in both area of financing and civil construction although the government awarded the contract to the company to implement it on a fast-track basis.
As per the rescheduled commercial operation date (RCOD), the project is supposed to come into operation in April next year.
But state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) officials have doubt whether the company will be able to come into operation as per the stipulated timeframe.
They said it is almost impossible to complete the remaining 90 percent work in the next 5 months.
PDB officials said the 300-MW furnace oil-fired (HFO) power plant project was awarded to the United Enterprises & Company Limited, a subsidiary of United Group, under a contract to implement the project within 15 months. A contract was signed in this regard on November 13, 2016.
But the commercial operation date (COD) was later rescheduled and fixed at February 11, 2019. But again it was rescheduled to April 25, 2019.
On behalf of the government, the PDB signed a contract with United Group to purchase electricity from the project.
PDB officials said the sponsor company appointed an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor few months back and took preparation for site development.
A PDB senior official said there was a conflict between the state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertilisaer Ltd (CUFL) and United Group over a land of about 1.4 acres located in the project area.
The PDB official informed that the CUFL authorities closed a half km approach road to the power project claiming that about 1.4 acres of its land were illegally occupied by the power project developer.
Following the closure of the road, work on the power plant project came to a halt virtually.
After the incident, the power plant sponsor approached the local administration to resolve the problem with the government fertiliser factory.
Finally, with the initiative of the Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong and the Ministry of Industries, the dispute was resolved, said the officials.
Project director Kamruzzaman was contacted over mobile phone for his comment but he did not respond.
Dhaka, Nov 24 (UNB) – Though they had long been on a movement seeking restoration of an election-time neutral government, BNP and its new alliance Jatiya Oikyafront are unlikely to come up with a promise in their upcoming election manifesto to revive the system if they win the polls.
Talking to UNB, senior leaders of the alliance who are drafting the election manifesto said they will instead make a commitment to strengthen the Election Commission and ensure a strong election system so that people can cast their votes freely in any election and that their voting right is ‘restored’.
They said they are formulating the manifesto incorporating the plans and proposals of all the alliance partners based on the BNP-led 20-party alliance’s ‘Vision-2030’ and the Oikyafront’s 11-point goal and the final version of the manifesto is likely to be unveiled in the first week of December.
Members of the Oikyafront’s manifesto drafting committee already held its maiden meeting on Thursday and discussed the proposals its partners put forward.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed told UNB that there is now no caretaker government system in Bangladesh. “So, we didn’t discuss any issue to make a commitment in our manifesto to restore it.”
In their manifesto, he said, they will first focus on ensuring good governance, government accountability and a functional parliament. “We’ll also promise to strength the democratic organs, ensure independence of the judiciary and press freedom and a healthy democratic political practice in the country, and take steps so that opposition parties can exercise their democratic rights.”
The BNP leader said there will also be promises for the betterment and welfare of youths and increase job opportunities for them.
As it will not be possible to give all the youths jobs by the government, he said, they will promise to give them various facilities, incentives and assistance so that they themselves can turn out to be entrepreneurs.
Moudud said they will focus on the further expansion of ICT and ensure more involvement of youths in it.
He said they will focus on development of the agriculture sector. “Proper attention has not been given for a long time to expand the sector and ensure the welfare of farmers. So, we’ll describe our detailed plans for the expansion of the sector.”
Moudud said they will also give focus on the development of the education sector and restoring discipline in educational institutions.
Besides, he said, they have many plans and proposals for rapid progress of the financial sector and restoring discipline in the financial institutions like banks and share market.
The BNP leader said their chairperson Khaleda Zia in May 2017 presented the 20-party’s ‘Vision 2030’ depicting what Bangladesh they want to see. “The reflection of the ‘Vision 2030’ will be there in Oikyafront’s election manifesto.”
Gono Forum presidium member AHM Shafiq Ullah said they are now discussing the proposals of different parties of the alliance and will complete the draft manifesto by this month.
“Later, we’ll share it with all the alliance partners, and then the Oikyafront steering committee will finalise it before making it public,” he said.
Echoing Moudud, Shafiq said they have no plan to pledge in their manifesto about the restoration of the election-time non-party neutral government.
He said they will focus on ensuring the rule of law and good governance, improving the life standard of people of all walks of life, including workers and farmers.
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said there are many good ideas and proposals in the 20-party’s ‘Vision 2030’, and they will make the manifesto based on it and the Oikyafront’s 11-point goal.
BNP-led 20-party alliance’s chief coordinator and LDP president Oli Ahmed said they still do not have any plan to present a separate election manifesto as ‘Vision 2030’ is their main manifesto.
An Oikyafront leader, wishing anonymity, said they will come up with some commitments in their manifesto about ensuring a balance between the power of the President and the Prime Minister.
Besides, he said, they may promise to enhance the age limit to 35 for entry into government jobs and reform the quota system after discussions with all stakeholders. “We’ll also promise not to halt any mega project and not to increase the tariffs of utility services,” the Oikyafront leader said.
Dhaka, Nov 24 (UNB) - The 11th parliamentary elections slated for December 30 represent the first real test for new election expenditure allowances.
The legal limit on election expenses for each contesting candidate is determined on a per capita basis, and varies in line with the size of the electorate in each constituency, with a uniform ceiling that applies for everyone.
In the wake of a recent gazette notification, candidates are allowed spending of Tk 10 per voter (previously Tk 8) in their constituency. That means candidates in Jhalakathi-1 for example - the smallest electorate in the country numbering 178,785 - are restricted to legally spending even less than Tk 18 lakh.
The new ceiling of Tk 25 lakh (2.5 million) thus comes into play for constituencies with more than 250,000 voters (2.5 lakh) - some 275 of the 300 constituencies fall in that category. So we may take Tk 25 lakh spending limit - to which it was raised from Tk 15 lakh prior to the 10th parliamentary elections in 2014 - as applicable to most candidates.
Yet Bangladeshis have long bemoaned the entry and subsequent entrenchment of ‘black money’ in their politics, and studies exist to demonstrate how the spending limits have been flouted in the past.
To be sure, ‘black money’ in politics does not always denote corrupt or criminal intent. But it is always undisclosed, and that is enough to allow the scope for illicit use. When people say ‘get black money out of politics’, what they are calling for is the establishment of formal channels of political financing that are transparent and instill accountability in the system.
In a study conducted by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), the corruption watchdog, it was revealed that in the scheduled January 2007 general election that was postponed at the last moment (‘1/11’), candidates seeking nominations had spent three times the stipulated spending limit even before the date kicked in for election spending.
The Election Commission neither took any measures to prevent it, nor did they take any action against the perpetrators of such violations, according to TIB.
In another recent survey by TIB related to illicit finance in politics, the spending patterns of candidates in 40 constituencies shed light on the sheer scale of the discrepancy between the legal limit and what was actually spent by candidates in the 9th parliamentary election held on December 29, 2008.
The 88 candidates in the surveyed constituencies spent Tk 4,420,979 on average during the legal timeframe for election campaigning. The highest amount spent by a candidate was Tk 28.1 million, (Tk 2.81 crore).
Keeping in mind the previous expenditure limit of Tk 15 lakh, that means the candidates in the 40 constituencies included in the TIB study exceeded the limit thrice over. The subsequent increase by Tk 10 lakh is unlikely to have prevented it from happening again.
In 2006-2007, TI successfully piloted the Crinis, a research, benchmarking
and advocacy tool, in eight Latin American countries, triggering both debate and reform.
The project assessed levels of transparency and accountability in political party- and election finances looking at laws and practices in the participating countries.
Following its success in Latin America, the Crinis Pilot Project in Asia Pacific was launched. This pilot stage started in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal.
The main goal of the project was to contribute to the strengthening of the legitimacy and credibility of democratic institutions by increasing the levels of transparency and accountability in the political finance systems in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal.
According to the Crinis methodology, countries are assigned a score between 1 to 10 on a number of indicators or dimensions. Bangladesh’s mean score is 4.5 (termed as
‘regular’). Among all the categories, only the scope of reporting (mean score 9.2) returned a satisfactory mark for Bangladesh.
On the other hand, in dimensions such as bookkeeping (mean score 2.8), reporting (mean score 3.2), reliability of reporting (mean score 2.0), public disclosure (mean score 2.2), and sanctions (mean score 2.2), it is not satisfactory.
In comparison to the two other countries that were part of the pilot, Bangladesh did attain the highest mean score (4.5). Indonesia scored 3.7, and Nepal scored 2.8. However, in sum, TIB concluded all these countries have a lot to develop in terms of monitoring political finance and transparency.
Satkhira, Nov 23 (UNB) – A viral attack has devastated the shrimp enclosures in the district, leaving the sector in limbo as the farmers are counting huge losses due to the widespread death of shrimp and its falling price.
Freshwater prawn (Macrobrachiumrosenbergii), commercially known as 'White Gold' in Bangladesh, is farmed in around 50 lakh acres of land in six upazilas of the district.
Three species --Bagda, Galda and Harina—are farmed here. Among them, Bagda and Galda are exported to various countries while Harina supplied to local markets.
The country now earns nearly Tk 1,500 crore in foreign exchange every year by exporting shrimp from Satkhira alone, official sources said.
Sources at Satkhira District Fisheries Department said Bagda has been cultivated in 49,163 registered enclosures in six upazilas this year with a production target of 27,500 metric tons against last year’s 26,000 mts.
But the shrimp farmers suffered huge losses in the wake of falling prices caused by the viral attack. Shrimp worth Tk 100 crore died this year, said sources at the District Shrimp Farmers Association.
Officials at District Fisheries Department said lack of fresh water and favourable environment are behind the attack by the viral disease.
Rajyeswar Das, a shrimp farmer of Sorappur village in Ashashuni upazila said, “We’re upset as we’re losing money. I’ve been cultivating shrimp for last 30-35 years. I cultivated Bagda on 2,500 bighas of land this year but incurred the worst losses in 10 years – Tk 2 crore. I’m not getting fair the price either.”
Dr Abul Kalam Babla, general secretary of the association, said he farmed Bagda on around 1,500 bighas of land. Most shrimps died due to attack by a viral disease and he incurred a loss of Tk 1 crore, Kalam added.
Md Abdur Rab, president of the association, said the farmers are not getting fair prices due to downtrend in prices on the international market. The shrimps, which were selling at Tk 900-100 per kg barely two months back, are now selling at Tk 550-600 per kg, hitting the farmers and businessmen hard.
Aftabuzzaman, former president of the association, said the commercial shrimp farming in the district started in 1972. The interest of the local farmers in shrimp farming increased following its high demand both on the local and international markets, he said.
He said when shrimp fry used to be collected from natural sources, the prevalence of the viral disease was low, but it started increasing when farmers became dependent on hatcheries for the fry.
Md Shahidul Islam, a district fisheries officer, said the shrimp enclosures have been built in unhygienically as the shrimp fry are hardly released in the enclosures making those free from bacteria.
He said they suggested the farmers to farm shrimp in hygienically to avoid any attack by viral diseases.