Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) – Ruling Awami League MP Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Workers Party MP Rashed Khan Menon on Thursday raised questions over the withdrawal of a private members’ resolution through second-time voting after the majority MPs made an ‘inadvertent mistake’ during the first-time voting.
However, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said she moved the proposal for the second-time voting in line with the rules of procedures of Parliament as she was confused over the results of the first-time voting.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury placed the private members’ resolution titled “The opinion of parliament is that a specific tax instead of existing ad-valorem system should be imposed on all types of tobacco products” in the House.
Nine MPs from both treasury and opposition benches also extended their support to the resolution.
However, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal refused to accept the proposal, saying there is no scope now to impose specific tax rate on tobacco products.
In the current budget, he said, ad-valorem taxes were imposed on retail price slabs of tobacco products. “The decision was taken considering purchasing capacity of consumers based on the political decision,” he argued.
“But specific taxation system for tobacco products is now being assessed. Such system might be introduced in the future,” said the Finance Minister urging Saber Hossain to withdraw his resolution.
As Saber Hossain declined to withdraw it, the Speaker placed the resolution for voting, but the majority MPs cast ‘no vote’ against the withdrawal of the resolution.
The Speaker got confused over the results of the voting and drew the attention of the MPs without making any decision on it.
She then went for the second-time voting when the majority MPs gave ‘yes vote’ in favour of withdrawal of the resolution.
After the withdrawal of the resolution, Saber took floor and raised an objection over the second-time voting, claiming that the issue was settled through the first-time voting where MPs opposed the withdrawal of it.
“There’s no instance of second-time voting in parliament for disposal of any resolution. I’m definitely got disappointed as the Finance Minister didn’t accept a public-interest issue. Rather, he took a stance so that tobacco companies can make more money depriving the government of revenue,” he said.
As there was confusion over the withdrawal of the resolution, Saber urged the Speaker to go for division vote, saying such voting will not cause the fall of the government.
He also called upon the Speaker to keep the decision on the issue pending, and examine the proceedings of parliament regarding the disposal of the resolution.
Speaking on the issue, Rashed Khan Menon also supported Saber and urged the Speaker to go for the division vote.
Clarifying the issue, the Speaker said her decision of second-time voting was right as a confusion created over the issue.
“There’re also instances of second time voting in parliament in the past. There’s no reason and scope for me to show partiality. I hope there’ll no more confusion over the matter after my clarification,” she said.