BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday expressed deep shock at the death of Transcom Group chairman Latifur Rahman.
In a condolence message, he said Latifur made outstanding contributions to job creation in the country by setting up factories.
The BNP leader said the Transcom Group chairman earned a reputation from all quarters for his honesty in and dedication to his work as a businessman and entrepreneur.
“He was given various awards in recognition of his work,” Fakhrul said.
Stating that the Transcom Group chairman was the,founder of the country’s two leading newspapers--Prothom Alo and Daily Star-- the BNP leader said Latifur was respectful for objective news coverage.
“People will remember with gratitude his contributions to the country. He left the world prematurely,” Fakhrul observed.
The BNP leader prayed for salvation of Latifur’s departed soul and conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved family members.
Latifur Rahman, chairman and CEO of Transcom Group, passed away at his village home on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 75.
Also read: Transcom Group chairman Latifur Rahman dies
BNP on Wednesday alleged that though most countries are conducting free corona tests across the world, the government has fixed test fee in Bangladesh as it has become a ‘mass enemy’.
"There is no country in the world like Bangladesh where helpless people are starving and going door to door for food amid the coronavirus. But the government has fixed Tk 200 for corona test as it has become a big mass enemy. No corona test fee is taken even in a war-torn country like Afghanistan,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Speaking at a programme at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, he also said it has now become difficult for many people like rickshaw-and van-pullers and day-labourers to earn Tk 200 a day. “So, how can they undergo the test at Tk 200? We strongly condemn and protest it.”
Earlier on Monday, the government fixed the coronavirus test fee in an effort to avoid unnecessary tests of Covid-19.
According to it, anyone who wants to conduct a test from government hospitals or Covid-19 dedicated booths have to pay Tk 200 while Tk 500 if samples collected from the home of a patient suspected to be infected with the virus.
Opposing the government’s move, Rizvi said had there been a pro-people government in the country it would not have imposed any corona test fee. “In many countries of the world, even during the British period and Pakistan period, treatment and test at government hospitals were almost free.”
He said the government is supposed to provide free food to people and reduce the prices of essentials at this time of corona pandemic, but it is increasing the prices of different services as it is least bothered about public sufferings.
“It’s an oppressive and blood sucker regime which is taking the advantage of a natural disaster targeting people. It’s a government which has become truly a mass enemy.”
Jatiyatabadi Swechchhasebak Dal arranged the programme where the families of two BNP leaders, who had been reportedly been made disappeared, were given finical assistance.
Also read: Govt fixes Covid-19 test fee
BNP MPs on Wednesday turned down the national budget passed in Parliament on Tuesday as they think it will only create further scopes for those who plunder public money instead of helping the nation overcome the coronavirus fallouts.
Five MPs of the party also tore the copies of the national budget at Manik Mia Avenue in front of the parliament complex by registering their protest against the ‘anti-people’ budget.
They took position there to voice their reactions to the national budget on the very first day of the new financial year.
They demanded the government come up with a roadmap to overcome the coronavirus crisis and replace Health Minister Zahid Maleque with a competent one.
In a written speech, BNP’s female MP Barrister Rumeen Farhana said the new budget will only inflict more sufferings on people now struggling due to the coronavirus.
“This budget will push crores of hungry people who have become jobless due to coronavirus towards a famine, and it’ll put the food security at risk by destroying the agriculture. It’ll invite a deep economic recession instead of helping revive the economy…overall, the budget will widen the scope for those who indulge in plundering the country’s assets. So, we reject the budget,” Rumeen said.
Four other BNP MPS are Harunur Rashid (Chapainawabganj-3), Musharraf Hossain (Bogura-4), GM Siraj (Bogura-6) and Aminul Islam (Chapainawabganj-2). Two other BNP MPs -- advocate Abdussattar and Zahidur Rahman -- did not join the programme on health ground.
Earlier on Tuesday, Parliament passed the Tk 568,000 crore national budget for the fiscal year 2020-21, with the slogan 'Economic Transition and Pathway to Progress'.
Also read: Parliament passes budget for 2020-21 FY
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on June 11 placed the budget to achieve an ambitious 8.2 percent GDP, which has been revised to 5.2 percent in line with maintaining a 5.4 percent inflation for the next fiscal overcoming all the challenges and impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Rumeen Farhana said they put forward a proposal to the Speaker for virtual discussions on the national budget but it was not accepted.
“The general discussion on the budget was held for a day only. It's unimaginable! We believe the government wanted to conclude the session as soon as possible in order to avoid criticisms against an ordinary proposed budget during a serious crisis like corona,” she said.
Rumeen said the budget did not focus on welfare of the country’s 90 percent people, and it has no guideline to protect people’s lives and livelihoods amid the coronavirus.
Harun said people’s issues and the crisis they are facing were not discussed in Parliament.
About his address in Parliament, the BNP said he sought the resignation of the health minister for the sordid condition in the health sector.
“I talked about the reform in the health sector. But the Prime Minister didn’t say anything about it. Though it was told from the highest level of the government about showing zero tolerance against corruption, it is not there in reality,” he said.
He demanded the government give a roadmap immediately to contain the coronavirus.
“The government will have to place specific plans before the nation to get rid of corona and protect people from it. We the BNP MPs demand immediate removal of the health minister and his replacement with a competent person. We also turn down the impractical budget passed yesterday (Tuesday),” he added.
Later, the MPs tore the budget copies together.
Also read: Budget ambitious, but implementable: PM
Chief Coordinator of Ganasanghati Andolan Zonayed Saki on Wednesday said that the workers of state-owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) will not accept its closure as it is an arrangement to "loot the state wealth and smuggling them abroad".
Saki came up with the remarks at a protest rally at Jatiya Press Club demanding cancellation of the government's decision to shut down state-owned jute mills and removal of negligence, irregularities and corruption in the jute industry, said a press release.
He criticised the state for "displaying acute cruelty" by initiating to make 50,000 workers jobless and pushing more than one lakh people towards poverty during Covid-19 pandemic when already three crore people have slipped under the poverty line.
“The government needs Tk 1,200 crore to modernise the state-owned mills but they are allocating Tk 5,000 crore for golden handshake,” he said adding that the same thing happened during the BNP regime when Adamjee Jute Mills was closed.
“For modernisation of Adamjee Jute Mills the government needed Tk 200 crore but they spend Tk 1,300 crore to close down the mill following the advice of the World Bank,” he said.
The key reasons for the persistent loss are corruption, not modernising the factories and failing to increase production. "Without solving these issues, shutting down the factory can’t produce any solution," Saki said.
Earlier on Sunday, Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said 25 mills under BJMC will be shuttered in the face of staggering losses. All workers will be released with ‘golden handshakes’.
He said around Tk 5,000 crore will be set aside to clear all arrears of 8,954 workers who retired since 2014, as well as the overtime dues, provident funds, and gratuities to those who will be released under the golden handshake, numbering 24,886.
Ganasanghati Andolan central leaders Abul Hasan Rubel, Bachchu Bhuiyan, Julhasnain Babu, Jannatul Marium Tanya also spoke at the demonstration among others.
BNP on Wednesday demanded the Election Commission postpone its move to formulate a new law over political party registration until the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
BNP came up with the demand in a letter sent to the EC informing it about the party's stance over the draft of the Political Party Registration Act, 2020.
A BNP delegation, led by its joint secretary Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, handed over the letter to Senior Secretary of the EC Secretariat Md Alamgir in the afternoon.
“We’re strongly demanding that the activities to formulate the related new law be postponed. It (EC) should not finalise any proposal over it until this critical time is over and a favourable environment is created to elicit opinions from stakeholders... ,” BNP said in its letter, signed by party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
BNP said although it seems a good initiative apparently, the timing is unacceptable.
BNP leaders Harunur Rashid, MP, Barrister Kaisar Kamal and Mosharraf Hossain were among members of the delegation.
In mid-June last, the EC published the draft law on its website (www.ecs.gov.bd) and also sent its copy to the political parties seeking their opinions over the proposed law by July 7.