Volatile global situation likely to worsen further: PM Hasina tells parliament
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday apprehended that the present volatile world situation might deteriorate further. “…no one can say how long this unusual situation of the world will continue. Maybe the situation will worsen further,” she said. The prime minister made the statement while participating in a condolence motion on ruling party lawmaker Afsarul Amin in parliament. She said that food shortages, inflation, operating and transportation costs, electricity shortages have made everyone's life unbearable in the world. Also Read: Govt to allow onion import from Monday: Agriculture Ministry The leader of the House said that the government has provided electricity to people's homes as promised. She mentioned that crisis of fuel oil, coal or gas is going on worldwide. “Now it is very difficult to buy. It has become impossible to buy. Still our efforts will continue.” Hasina said that the government has signed agreements with Qatar and Oman to purchase fuel. Also Read: PM Hasina slams critics and vows to implement the budget for FY23-24 She also said that the government also have taken measures to import hydropower. “Steps have already been taken to purchase coal. So that we can restart the power plants,” she said. The PM said that the benefits of Independence are reaching people's door as the country is advancing socioeconomically. She mentioned that Ukraine-Russia war, sanctions, counter-sanctions, global inflation and fuel oil crisis for which not only Bangladesh, but also developed countries are struggling. “There is a shortage of fuel in various countries including Europe and America. There is load shedding or limiting power consumption. The price of everything from food has gone up. Many people are losing their jobs even in developed countries.” She said that an unusual situation is persisting worldwide. “I don't know if this has ever happened before. Maybe after World War I. After the Second World War, there was a famine,” she said Hasina reiterated her call to maintain austerity in using electricity. “We also need to increase food production. We have to try. No one can say how long this unusual situation in the world will last. But for the food safety of the people of our country, we are doing everything to ensure food security.” She said that the food crisis, inflation, operating and transportation costs, electricity shortage in the whole world as a result of the corona virus epidemic and then the Ukraine-Russia war have made the life of every human being unbearable. “We are doing our best in Bangladesh,” she added. Remembering Afsarul Amin, the PM said that he was involved with BCL since his student life. He played a role in every struggle. He was a devoted soul. His devotion and honesty towards the party was incomparable. “He also showed great success as a minister.” Awami League Lawmaker Tofail Ahmed, Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury, Deputy Minister for Education Muhibul Hasan Chowdhury, ruling party MPs Waseqa Ayesha Khan , Motahar Hossain, Nurul Islam Nahid, Mujibul Haque Chunnu and Masiur Rahman Ranga spoke on the condolence motion. Later, the House unanimously adopted the condolence motion expressing profound grief over the death of the ruling party lawmaker. Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury moved the condolence motion. A minute of silence was observed and munajat was offered.
Australian Parliament takes step toward holding a referendum on Indigenous Voice this year
Australia's House of Representatives voted overwhelming Wednesday for a referendum to be held this year on creating an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, an advocate aiming to give the nation's most disadvantaged ethnic minority more say on government policy. While the Voice would advocate for Indigenous interests, it would not have a vote on laws, and debate for and against the elected body has become increasingly heated and divisive. The 121-to-25 House vote that approved the referendum being held does not reflect the level of lawmakers' support for enshrining the Voice in the constitution. The opposition conservative Liberal Party voted in support of giving Australians a choice at a referendum but is also campaigning for the Voice to be rejected by the public. Also read: Australian lawmaker breaks ranks to support Indigenous Voice The Senate will vote on the bill in June, and the bill needs majority support to ensure that Australia's first referendum since 1999 takes place between October and December this year. A majority of senators have already flagged their support. Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman to hold the role, said the campaigning would begin in earnest with a successful Senate vote. She had "no doubt" the referendum would succeed. "A yes vote at a referendum ... will move Australia forward for everyone. It will be a new chapter in our country's story," Burney told reporters. Also Read: Australian opposition against Indigenous Voice in Parliament "And a yes vote will make a practical difference — I cannot stress that enough — the Voice will make a practical difference. Because the solutions to so many of our challenges can be found in the knowledge and the wisdom of local (Indigenous) communities," Burney added. Proponents hope the Voice will improve living standards for Indigenous Australians, who account for 3.2% of Australia's population and are the most nation's most disadvantaged ethnic group. Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan, a racism law watchdog, has warned that focusing the public debate on race emboldens racists and exposes the Indigenous population to abuse and vilification. The Liberal Party and the Nationals party, which formed a conservative coalition government for nine years until elections a years ago, argue the Voice would create a racial divide. Opposition leader Peter Dutton has told Parliament the proposal would permanently divide Australians by race. "It will have an Orwellian effect where all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others," Dutton said. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who committed his center-left Labor Party government on election night last year to holding the referendum, said "scare campaigns" against the Voice would not find traction among most Australians. "Australians won't succumb to their appeals to fear and their ever-more ludicrous invitations to jump at our own shadows," Albanese said in a recent speech. Speaking in support of the Voice, government minister Tim Watts urged his fellow lawmakers to address Australia's history of refusing to recognize or listen to its Indigenous people. Watts quoted his own ancestor as a cautionary example: John Watts, a 19th century colonial lawmaker who had justified state-condoned extrajudicial police shootings of Indigenous Outback tribes. "The natives must be taught to feel the mastery of the whites," John Watts had told the Queensland state Parliament in 1861. "The natives, knowing no law, nor entertaining any fears but those of the carbine (rifle): there were no other means of ruling them," John Watts had added. His descendant, Tim Watts, urged lawmakers in Parliament to: "Take this moment to be good ancestors." Opinion polls show the Voice has majority public support. But many observers say support is not yet high enough to indicate a successful referendum. Of the 44 referendums held since the constitution took effect in 1901, only eight have been carried and none since 1977. No referendum has ever been passed without the bipartisan support the major political parties. The Voice was recommended in 2017 by a group of 250 Indigenous leaders who met at Uluru, a landmark sandstone rock in central Australia that is a scared site to traditional owners. They were delegates of the First Nations National Constitutional Convention that the then-government had asked for advice on how the Indigenous population could be acknowledged in the constitution. The conservative government immediately rejected the prospect of the Voice, which it likened to a third chamber of Parliament.
Modi opponents boycott opening of new parliament building as PM reshapes India’s power corridor
India's major opposition parties Sunday boycotted the inauguration of a new parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a rare show of unity against his Hindu nationalist ruling party, which has spent nine years in power and is seeking a third term in general elections next year. Modi inaugurated the new parliament in the capital of New Delhi by offering prayers as Hindu priests chanted religious hymns at the start of the ceremony. Opposition parties criticized the event saying the prime minister had sidelined President Droupadi Murmu, who has only ceremonial powers but is the head of state and highest constitutional authority. "May this iconic building be a cradle of empowerment, igniting dreams and nurturing them into reality," Modi tweeted shortly after the inauguration. Senior ministers from Modi's party and leaders from its alliance partners attended the inauguration but at least 19 opposition parties skipped the event, which coincided with the birth anniversary of a Hindu nationalism ideologue. Opposition parties said in a statement Wednesday that Modi's "decision to inaugurate the building by himself" was "a grave insult" to India's democracy, adding that the ruling government had "disqualified, suspended and muted" opposition lawmakers while passing "controversial legislation" with little debate. "When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from the parliament, we find no value in a new building," the parties said. India's powerful Home Minister Amit Shah said the opposition had politicized the event and other leaders from Modi's party said the boycott is "an insult to the prime minister." The new triangular-shaped building — built at an estimated cost of $120 million — is part of a $2.8 billion revamp of British-era offices and residences in central New Delhi that will also include blocks of buildings to house government ministries and departments, and Modi's new private residence. The entire project, called the "Central Vista," is spread over 3.2 kilometers (1.9 miles). The project was announced in 2019 and Modi laid its foundation a year later in December 2020. The plan has drawn intense criticism from opposition politicians, architects and heritage experts, many of whom have called it environmentally irresponsible, a threat to cultural heritage and too expensive. Outrage grew in 2021 when at least 12 opposition parties questioned the project's timing, saying it was built as the country faced a devastating surge in coronavirus cases. They branded the revamp as Modi's "vanity project" and said its construction was prioritized over the loss of lives and livelihoods during the pandemic. A year earlier, a group of 60 former civil servants wrote an open letter to Modi to highlight the architectural value of the old parliament building and said the new plan would "irrevocably" destroy the area's cultural heritage. Modi's government has said the revamp was necessary because the older building was "showing signs of distress and over utilization" and that the new design "combines the country's heritage and traditions." The newly inaugurated building sits just across from India's old parliament, a circular structure designed by British architects in the early 20th century. The new four-story building has a total of 1,272 seats in two chambers, almost 500 more than the old building. The old parliament will be converted into a museum. During the televised ceremony Sunday, Modi prostrated before a royal golden scepter that his Bharatiya Janata Party says symbolized the transfer of power when it was gifted to the country's first prime minister on the eve of India's independence from Britain in 1947. Dozens of Hindu priests followed Modi inside the parliament, where he installed the scepter near the chair of the speaker. Modi's critics and opposition leaders have questioned the scepter's historicity and said the emblem is appropriate to a monarchy, not a democracy. The prime minister's supporters see the new parliament as his attempt to remake India's power corridor and disrupt the country's colonial legacy. Last year, Modi inaugurated a revamped colonial avenue in the heart of New Delhi that is used for ceremonial military parades. The boulevard was earlier called "Rajpath," or Kingsway, but Modi's party changed it to "Kartavya Path," or road to duty, arguing the old name was a "symbol of slavery" that had "been erased forever." Many such moves by Modi's ruling government have been met with strong criticism, but the controversy over the new parliament building has been the most fractious. It comes just months after opposition leaders protested Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Parliament in a defamation case over remarks he made about Modi's surname. Hours before the new parliament was opened, the Congress party's general secretary, Jairam Ramesh, criticized Modi again. "A self-glorifying authoritarian Prime Minister with utter disdain for Parliamentary procedures, who rarely attends Parliament or engages in it, inaugurates the New Parliament building in 2023," he tweeted. Barely a mile away from the ceremony, a heavy police presence overpowered about 100 protesting Indian wrestlers and their supporters, who have accused their federation president of sexual harassment and had planned to march to the new parliament building. Some of the protesters scuffled with police and were taken away in a bus. The protesters have been staging demonstrations in New Delhi for nearly a month demanding the resignation and arrest of Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for allegedly sexually harassing young athletes. Singh, who has denied the accusations, is a powerful lawmaker from Modi's party.
Parliament to go into budget session May 31
This year the budget session of the Parliament will begin on May 31 as Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is scheduled to present the national budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year on June 1. President Mohammed Shahabuddin summoned the 23th session (Budget Session) of the 11th parliament exercising power bestowed upon him by Article 72(1) of the Constitution. The budget session will start at 5:00pm on May 31, said a press release from Parliament on Sunday. On May 11 last, the National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday approved a Tk 263,000 crore Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year (FY24) making highest allocation of Tk 75,945 crore (28.88pc of allocation) in the transport and communication sector. Also read: 22nd session of 11th Parliament prorogued Out of the original ADP allocation, Tk 169,000crore will be drawn from the local sources while Tk 94,000 crore will come from the foreign sources. In 2022, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal placed Tk 678,064-crore national budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 in the House.
Parliament mourns demise of 9 MPs, ex-ministers, others
Parliament on Thursday unanimously adopted a condolence motion expressing profound grief at the demise of nine former lawmakers including two ex-ministers and other noted personalities.The two former ministers are former information and communication minister Barrister Nazmul Huda, (who was also an MP in 6th, 7th and 8th Parliament from Dhaka-1), and former information minister and jute minister Habib Ullah Khan (who was also an MP in the 2nd Parliament from erstwhile Cumilla-5).The seven other former lawmakers are Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui (MP in the 1st parliament from the erstwhile Jashore-2), Reza Ali (9th parliament from Mymensingh-7), Delwar Hossain (8th parliament from Barguna-1), Shamsul Alam Pramanik (6th, 7th and 8th Parliament from Naogaon-4), Mozzamel Haque (8th parliament from Natore-4), Anwarul Hossain Khan Chowdhury (5th parliament from Mymensingh-9) and Enamul Haque ( 3rd and 4th parliament from Mymensingh-10 ).Besides, the House expressed deep shock at the death of a number of noted personalities including Ekushey padak winning sculptor Shamim Sikder, former general secretary of Awami League Laxmipur district unit freedom fighter Abu Taher, founding chairman of Rangs Group Abdur Rouf Chowdhury, photojournalist Jalaluddin Haider and former president of AL Madaripur sadar upazila unit and freedom fighter Ali Ahmed Khan. Also read: Essential Services Bill 2023 placed in JSThe Parliament also expressed profound grief at the loss of lives and the damage of properties in different recent accidents at home and abroad, including Siddique Bazar explosion and Bangabazar fire in Dhaka, bus accident at Shibchar in Madaripur, the loss of lives in a bus accident while carrying Umrah pilgrims at Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the bus crash at Murshidabad in the West Bengal of India.Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury moved the motion in the House in the beginning of the special session summoned on the occasion of the 50 years (Golden Jubilee) of Bangladesh Parliament.A one-minute silence was observed and a munajat offered seeking eternal peace for the departed souls. State Minister for Religious Affairs Faridul Haque Khan conducted the munajat.
Teletalk owes govt Tk 1695 crore: Minister
Post and Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar on Tuesday told Parliament that state-owned mobile phone operator Teletalk Bangladesh Limited owes some Tk 1694.73 crore to the government. The minister said this replying to a question from Awami League lawmaker AKM Sarwar Jahan. The question-answer session was tabled in the House after the day’s sitting began with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair. Of the total outstanding amount, Tk 1585.13 crore is for 3G spectrum assignment fee, while Tk 27.15 crore for spectrum charge, Tk 33.79 crore for revenue share and Tk 48.66 crore for SOF (Service Order Form), said Mustafa Jabbar. He said Citycell has an outstanding payment of Tk 128.698 crore with the government.
JS passes Mujibnagar University, Meherpur Bill,2023
The Mujibnagar University, Meherpur Bill, 2023 was passed in Parliament on Thursday aiming to cope up with the ever evolving modern knowledge of the world. Education Minister Dipu Moni moved the bill and it was passed by voice vote. The proposed university would be prototypes of other public universities. Read more: Parliament passes new national budget by voice vote There will be a business incubator to make the university students entrepreneurs and give them all kind of assistance at preliminary stage. As per the bill, the disciplinary committee will propose the syndicate to take appropriate steps for resisting sexual harassment, violence and ragging.
Around 60 percent brick kilns are operating illegally: Minister
Around 60 percent of the brick kilns in the country are being operated illegally without environmental clearance. Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Shahab Uddin gave this information on Tuesday in response to a tabled question of ruling party lawmaker Mamunur Rashid Kiran in Parliament. Read more: Govt may provide loans for producing eco-friendly bricks: Environment Minister The minister said that the total number of brick kilns in the country (June 2022) is 7881. Of these, 3,248 are being operated legally. But 4,633 brick kilns are operating without environmental clearance. The minister said 41.2 percent of the brick kilns are legal and 58.8 percent are illegal. The minister said that from 2019 to 2022, some 1,772 drives were conducted and some of Tk 77.62 crore was collected from 3,37 brick kilns. Read more: DCs asked to take steps against brick kilns Besides, 907 brick kilns were shut and 80 people were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. In response to the question of ruling party MP M Abdul Latif of the government party, the minister said that about 30,000 tonnes solid wastes are generated in the cities of Bangladesh every day. In 2025, the quantity of daily waste will increase to 47,000 tonnes. The minister said that about 10 percent of the solid waste is plastic.
Row breaks out in JS over ruling party MP's jibe at Ershad
The atmosphere in Parliament became very heated for some time over an apparently derogatory remark by a ruling party MP on Jatiya Party founder and ex. president, late HM Ershad. Ruling party MP from Lalmonirhat Motahar Hossain, while speaking at the thanksgiving motion on President’s speech, claimed that Ershad lost his security money in the January 5, 2014 election against him. His comments created anarchy in the House for some time. Jatiya Party MP Firoz Rashid stood and started to speak without the microphone and protested what he called the ‘derogatory remark’ from the ruling party MP. At one stage Deputy Speaker Shamshul Huq Tuku, who was in the chair, asked him to sit down and wait to be given the floor. But Rashid did not stop and at that time shouting from different directions was heard in the House. Motahar, who still had the mic, asked how Rashid expects to speak while another MP is speaking. Deputy Speaker at that time turned off all microphones, and gave the floor to Firoz Rashid for one minute. The Jatiya Party MP accused Motahar of lying. “His (Motahar Hossain) speech should be expunged and he should seek apology,” he said. Opposition Chief Whip Mashiur Rahman Ranga also threatened to leave the House, shouting without the mic. Deputy Speaker asked him to sit down and speak later on point of order. But Ranga did not pay heed to him and continued shouting. Read more: Parliament now a one-party club: Fakhrul At that stage, deputy speaker assured him that if there is anything objectionable it will be expunged. He also asked Motahar to stick to the agenda and gave the microphone back to him. At this point, speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was seen to enter the House hurriedly and taking her seat. She asked for calm and all to sit down. “There is a decorum in the House, now discussion on the President’s speech is going on, one person is speaking, if there are any objectionable words in that speech you can raise that and it will be expunged after scrutiny. For that you have to wait for sometime,” she said. She gave the floor to Motahar Hossain, and now he claimed that he did not say anything untrue. Standing on point of order, Firoz Rashid said that it is indecent to say anything derogatory against a dead person. “Mr Motahar should know that Mr Ershad never suffered defeat in the land of Rangpur,” he said. He also said that Ershad did not participate in the 2014 election. “There is no one in Rangpur who can inflict a defeat on Mr Ershad in Rangpur where he loses his security money, in any election. There should be a limit of audacity, we demand full expunge of this speech, otherwise he will face problems in the land of Rangpur,” he said. Read more: 21st Parliament session to continue till Feb 9 In the controversial 2014 election, Motahar got 189,814 votes in Lalmonirhat-1 constituency while Ershad got 5381 votes. Lalmonirhat is in Rangpur division.
Anti-corruption drive absent: Menon
Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon on Monday said that the anti-corruption drive of the government has grinded to a halt. “Corruption is a part of development. But those countries that are on the path of development have taken strict measures to prevent corruption,” he said. Rashed Khan Menon said this while participating in the discussion of the thanksgiving motion on the President's speech in the Parliament. He said that China has punished 150,000 persons for various terms on corruption charges. “Which includes Politburo members. Vietnam has sacked its deputy prime minister. But what have we done in the case of ministers and bureaucrats? No we don’t,” he said. Also Read: 191 news portals to be blocked for anti-state propaganda: Info Minister Rashed Khan Menon said that he will not talk about defaulted loans and money laundering. “There has been a lot of talk about this in Parliament. In this case, the government's thinking is like that you can say whatever you want, bit I will not pay any heed,” he said. Rashed Khan Menon said that the US and western imperialism wanted to involve Bangladesh in their plot of war in Russia and Ukraine, whichnis leading the world towards third world war. “The Prime Minister has managed to keep Bangladesh away from it so far. And this is why all those forces are so vocal about our elections and democracy.” Menon made it clear that Bangladesh's democracy and elections are its own affairs. “They should rather take care of their own matters and talk about others later,” he added. Criticising BNP, Rashed Khan Menon said that they have given 27 points to repair the state is an attempt to take the state back to the 'illegal fifth amendment era'. “Their 'Rainbow Nation' stands for abolishing the verdicts of the war criminals trials.”