The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday stated that 12 countries and four international agencies had shown interest in observing the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections. Besides, the application period for interested international observers has also been extended to December 7. Election Commission (EC) Additional Secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath disclosed this at a press conference on Tuesday. Read: BNP-Jamaat want to go to power by burning people: PM Hasina tells Armed Forces Day reception He said that foreign observers had requested for an extension of the application deadline. "We presented their application before the commission and it was approved. The deadline for foreign observers and journalists has been extended to December 7," he said. Ashok Kumar said according to the international observer policy, any organization or person can apply within this time by filling the form given on the EC website in the prescribed manner. He said if anyone needs any information, they can contact the EC. Read: Dhaka bins UN Special Rapporteurs’ comments on human rights in Bangladesh as ‘false and fabricated’ Mentioning that EC received applications from various observers of 12 countries so far, Kumar added that the EC received applications from four agencies. Of the four agencies, 11 observers will come from the African Electoral, four from the South Asian Development Forum, five from the IRI and four from the EU to observe the election.
The Ansar Battalion Bill, 2023 was passed in Parliament on Thursday rejecting the proposal to empower Ansar battalions to detain criminals, search bodies and seize goods. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan moved the Bill and it was passed by voice vote. The Ansar Battalion Bill, 2023, was placed in Parliament on October 23 where it proposed to empower the Ansar Battalion to detain criminals, search bodies and seize goods. As per the initially proposed Bill, a battalion member shall, in the case of an offence committed against him, with the approval of the superior officer concerned, detain the offender and immediately hand him over to the police and, as the case may be, on the direction of the Judicial Magistrate or the Executive Magistrate or the officer responsible for the purpose, to search the person, enter and can search any place and seize the goods. But the proposal witnessed serious opposition from the police department. Read: 11th Parliament sees its last day of sitting on Thursday There, some amendments were recommended in some cases including clauses 7 and 8 of the Bill. Section 8 of the Bill proposed to give the Ansar battalions powers of detention and search. The parliamentary committee has recommended amendments in this section of the Bill. This section states, "Any battalion shall take necessary action under the Criminal Procedure Code in respect of an offence committed in front of a member." According to committee sources, this proposal came from the police. As per the Section 7 of the Bill, regarding the responsibility of the Ansar Battalion, it was said that the government or any government authority with the approval of the government will carry out the responsibility in any public security work. Amendment was proposed here. It has been said that 'will assist in the fulfillment of responsibilities'. The Bill tabled in Parliament specified the maximum penalty for insurgency in Ansar forces to be death penalty or life imprisonment. Parliamentary Committee has recommended the abolition of the 'death penalty' in this case. After the meeting of the parliamentary committee, chairman Benazir Ahmed told the media that the amendment was proposed on the basis of consensus. “There is a law, they will be governed by that law. They can take action under the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 in terms of jurisdiction and power,” he said. According to the proposed law, there will be two courts to try the internal crimes of Ansar battalion members. One is ‘Summery Ansar Battalion Court’ to be headed by an additional director and another is ‘Special Ansar Battalion Court’ to be headed by the director general, said Cabinet Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain while briefing reporters at Bangladesh Secretariat. Serious crimes like committing mutiny, instigating for revolt, creating ground for rebellion, engaging in conspiracy will be tried in the Special Ansar Battalion Court. The maximum punishment for such crimes is the death penalty. Besides, other serious crimes related to the punitive provisions ranging from life imprisonment to minimum five years of imprisonment will be tried in special courts.
The 25th session, which was also the last sitting of the current 11th Parliament, ended on Thursday after witnessing record deaths of some 31 running members. There are three more persons waiting to be elected as MPs for this 11th Parliament who will surely miss their chances to sit in the session for a single minute. The constituencies are- Patuakhali-1, Brahmanbaria-2 and Laxmipur-3. The elections of the Brahmanbaria-2 and Laxmipur-3 by-elections will take place on November 5 while the by-election of Patuakhali-1 will be held on November 27. Read: Parliament raises maternity leave for working women to 120 days The 11th National Parliament started its journey on January 30, 2019. The term of the current Parliament will expire on January 29. There is an obligation to elect the next parliament within 90 days before the expiry of the term of the parliament. Accordingly, the election period has started from November 1. There is no obligation to convene a session of the Parliament during the election period. Again there is no obstacle in calling the session. According to sources from the Parliament Secretariat, the total working days of the 11th National Parliament were 272 days. Some 165 bills have been passed. A total of 1,336 questions were available for the Prime Minister to answer in the 11th Parliament. Read: 11.66 lakh female Bangladeshi workers employed abroad: Minister The Prime Minister answered 566 questions. Some 30,641 questions were available for other ministers. Among them, the ministers answered 17,762 questions. The 25th session of the 11th Parliament began on October 22. Although the session lasted for nine working days, some 25 bills were passed in just eight days of this session. Among them, seven bills were passed on the last day of the session on Thursday. Earlier, 19 bills were passed in the last session of the 10th Parliament. The current parliament has also got a record number of parliamentary sessions. A total of 25 sessions of the 11th Parliament have been held in the last 4 years and 9 months. Earlier, the seventh, eighth and tenth parliaments had a maximum of 23 sessions each. In addition, the ninth parliament has 19 sessions and the fifth parliament has 22 sessions. The 6th Parliament ended with just one session. Read: JP MPs congratulate Saima Wazed for being elected as WHO regional director The record of the shortest session has also been held in this parliament. During the Corona pandemic, one session of the Parliament ended with only one and a half hours of meeting in one day. After the commencement of the 7th session of the current parliament on April 18, 2020, it lasted for one and a half hours. Several sessions were held in special arrangements during the Corona period. Two special sessions were held in the current parliament on the occasion of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the National Parliament. Parliament Secretariat sources said that except for Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Parliament Leader and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was present in the Parliament for the longest time in the current Parliament. Opposition leader Raushon Ershad was present for 52 days. However, due to illness, she was undergoing treatment abroad for a long time.
Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed a legislation to increase maternity leave for working women by one week making it to 120 days. The current maternity leave is for 112 days or 16 weeks. Finance Companies Bill, 2023 passed in JS The Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed by voice vote after State Minister for Labour and Employment Munnujan Sufian moved it in the House. Under the current system female worker can take eight weeks before the birth of a baby and eight weeks after the birth. New Development Bank Bill, 2023 passed in JS to get BRICS funds Now a woman will be able to enjoy the leave at her convenient time before or after the delivery of the baby. Besides, the condition for formation of a trade union was eased in the amended bill. Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023 placed in JS The bill will become a law after President Mohammad Shahabuddin signs it. After it becomes a law the formation of a trade union, signatures of 15 percent workers will be required in a company having over 3,000 workers and the signatures of 20 percent workers are needed in a company having less than 3,000 employees. As per the existing law, 20 percent signatures are required in both cases. In the case of a group of companies, the signatures of 20 percent workers (instead of 30pc) will be required to form a trade union. Under the amended law the decision of the Labour Appeal Tribunal can be challenged in the Appellate Division not in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court as the tribunal is headed by a High Court judge.
A total of 11.66 lakh female migrant workers have gone to different countries of the world so far. Expatriates’ Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad said this in Parliament on Wednesday replying to a query of ruling Awami League MP Adiba Anjum Mita. He said that among the countries with high demand for female workers abroad are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Mauritius, Lebanon and Bahrain. “Government's vigilance and initiatives continue to ensure that women migrant workers do not suffer any discrimination,” the minister said. Imran Ahmad added that there are a total of 6 safe zones in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Lebanon in a bid to protect women migrant workers. In response to Jatiya Party MP Syed Abu Hossain's question, the minister minister said that 4 lakh 53 thousand 337 workers have been employed abroad in different countries till October of the current financial year. He also said that 11 lakh 25 thousand 825 people were sent to different countries in the last financial year of 2022-23. In reply to AL MP Morshed Alam's question, State Minister for Disaster Management Enamur Rahman said that the government has spent Tk 9,376 crore for the Rohingya in the last six years since 2017. In addition, the amount of loss of forest resources and possible loss of biodiversity caused by natural forest and social forestry is Tk 204.67 crore. He said that according to the joint verification data of the Bangladesh government and the UNHCR, 9,34,719 people are living in 33 camps of Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazar district and 30,748 people are living in Bhashan Char of Noakhali. Besides, 26,165 Rohingyas are waiting for the verification process. Therefore, a total of 9.91 lakh Rohingya refugees are living in Bangladesh, he said.
Jatiya Party MPs on Wednesday congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's daughter and autism expert Saima Wazed Putul for being elected as the World Health Organisation's Regional Director for South-East Asia. The opposition MPs congratulated her while participating in the discussion on the New Development Bank Bill in Parliament. “We congratulate her and specially congratulate her mother--Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Fakhrul Imam MP said. Also read: WHO SEARO Director election: Momen thanks India, other countries for supporting Saima Wazed Another JP MP Rawshan Ara Mannan said that Saima Wazed deserved this. Even though she has so many degrees in good subjects, she engaged herself in autism related activities and thus saved many persons and their families. JP MP Rustam Ali Faraji also congratulated Saima Wazed, saying that she is a worthy daughter of a worthy mother. JP MP Kazi Firoz Rashid also congratulated her for achieving this honour. Also read: Bangladesh candidate Saima Wazed wins WHO SEARO Director election “The voting was done on the basis of merit, experience and knowledge. I think she has achieved this honour for her ability. It is a big achievement for our country,” he said. Later, Law Minister Anisul Huq, who moved the Bill, also congratulated Saima Wazed.
The New Development Bank Bill, 2023 was passed in Parliament on Wednesday to welcome funds from the lending arm of BRICS. Law Minister Anisul Huq, in absence of Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, moved the Bill in Parliament. Later, it was passed by voice vote. According to the objective of the Bill, the BRICS alliance consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa established a multinational bank called the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2014 by signing the Agreement on the New Development Bank. New customs law passed in parliament Currently, there are five founding members and a total of eight countries including Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are its members. According to the bank's Articles of Agreement, the Agreement on the New Development Bank needs to be ratified. The main objective of establishing the New Development Bank is to provide financial support to developing countries for implementation of infrastructure and sustainable development projects. Per capita debt is around $365, Finance Minister tells JS The authorised capital of the bank is $50 billion, of which paid-in-shares are $10 billion and callable shares are $40 billion. The total share of Bangladesh is 9420, and the amount of subscription is $942.00 million as paid-in capital. The amount payable by Bangladesh is $188.40 million (approximately Tk. 2081 crore 82 lakhs), which is payable in seven instalments. Finance Companies Bill, 2023 placed in JS Bangladesh became a member of the bank on September 16, 2021 by signing the 'Instrument of Accession'. According to Article 48 of the NDB's Articles of Agreement (AoA), the Agreement on the New Development Bank needs to be ratified. According to the said ratification and like other multinational banks, the NDB will have to enact new laws to provide status, immunities, privileges and exemptions from taxes/VAT in order to achieve its objectives and activities. Secure Transactions of (Moveable Assets) Bill, 2023 passed to broaden collateral terms The International Financial Organisation Order, 1972 for the IBRD and the IMF, the Asian Development Bank Order, 1973 for ADB, the Islamic Development Bank Act, 1975 for the IDB and the International Finance Corporation for International Finance Corporation Act, 2015 and recently the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Act 2016 were enacted for the AIIB. In this context, it is proposed to enact the New Development Bank Act, 2023.
Several opposition Jatiya Party MPs on Tuesday called upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to hold dialogue to find a solution to the ongoing crisis across the country regarding the upcoming national election. They also said that the country’s economic situation may worsen if a one-sided election is held in the country. The opposition MPs made the request while participating in the discussion on the Districts (Extension to the Chattogram Hill Tracts) Bill. Also read: ‘Is Biden holding dialogue with Trump?’ When the JP MPs made the call to the PM she was holding a press conference at her official residence Ganabhaban. Sheikh Hasina ruled out the possibility of holding dialogue with the BNP. While participating in the discussion, JP MP Shameem Haider Patwary expressed the fear that the economic situation of the country could worsen in the future if there is a one-sided election. He called upon the PM to hold a dialogue to end the ongoing crisis. “Now is the high time for Bangabandhu's daughter to call for a dialogue, establish peace and lead the country towards a fair solution. There are many conspiracies ahead of the vote. There is a movement in garment factories. The BNP is also engaged in a movement where fighting is taking place. A conflict is visible,” he said. Also read: PM Hasina describes as successful her visit to Belgium for Global Gateway Forum He said that there is panic in the public mind. Since the government is at the helm, since the government is in power, the power to resolve the ongoing crisis is in the hands of the government. Another JP MP Hafiz Uddin Ahmad said that the whole country is in turmoil while fighting is taking place at different places during the ongoing blockade programme. He also said that the country is heading towards a situation like the 2014 elections. “A fair solution is essential.” Hafiz Uddin said that garment workers took to the streets. The Election Commission is saying that the election will be held on time. "How will the election be held? Like 2014? What is the answer?" He called upon the government to bring back the peaceful and calm environment, bring back the election environment and accept the demands of the garment workers. Also read: Haas meets CEC, hopes all sides will engage in dialogue without preconditions About the ongoing movement of garment workers, JP MP Kazi Firoz Rashid said garment workers took to the streets only to demand better wages. “They took to the streets out of their pain of hunger. But they were shot dead,” he said of reported deaths of two garment workers in police action.
The Customs Bill 2023 was passed in the parliament on Wednesday — aiming to ensure fiscal discipline and accountability in import revenue collection and trade facilitation.Law Minister Anisul Huq, in absence of Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, moved the bill and it was passed by voice vote. According to the objective of the bill, revenue collection at the import level of Bangladesh is being conducted under the Customs Act, 1969. Necessary amendments to this act are brought through the Finance Act in the budget session every year. However, along with the expansion of foreign trade, in light of the Revised Kyoto Convention and the Trade Facilitation Agreement signed later for the purpose of simplifying various procedures of customs, there is a need to amend the existing law to make the customs law of Bangladesh easy and compatible with international best practices and to make it business-friendly. The Customs Act, 1969 enacted in English language by incorporating international best practices related to customs was part of the multifaceted reform and modernization program undertaken by the government and the National Board of Revenue to promote international standards of customs management in international trade and import and export. Initiatives have been taken to enact a modern customs law. Accordingly, a draft of the Customs Act has been prepared in consultation with various organisations and stakeholders. Customs Bill, 2023 has been prepared in Bengali language for the purpose of making up-to-date provisions on revenue collection, expansion of import and export trade, facilitation of business and expansion of new industrial sectors, after various reviews and revisions of the draft law following the above due process. The salient features of the proposed Customs Act, 2023 are as follows:While the existing Customs Act, 1969 is framed in English, the proposed “Customs Act, 2023” is framed in mother tongue Bengali. The existing Customs Act, 1969 has a total of 223 sections. The proposed Customs Bill, 2023 has a total of 269 sections, in accordance with international agreements and conventions approved by the World Customs Organization (WCO) for revenue collection and trade facilitation and international best practices such as Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), Electronic Declaration, Risk Management, Post Clearance Audit (PCA), Non Intrusive Inspection (NII) etc. Various essential aspects of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) approved under the leadership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) such as Advance Ruling, Stakeholder's Consultation, National Inquiry Point (NEP), Website, Advance Passenger Information (API) / Passenger Name Record (PNR) etc. have been included. A number of other important matters have also been inserted in the new act. If the proposed bill becomes a law, it is expected that fiscal discipline and accountability will be ensured along with import revenue collection and trade facilitation.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Tuesday said that currently the per capita debt of the country is around $365. The minister disclosed the information while replying to a tabled question from ruling Awami League MP Haji Selim. He said that the amount of foreign debt until June 2023 is $ 62,312.71 million (temporary), including $36,781.03 million from multilateral sources and $ 25,531.68 million from bilateral sources. Finance Companies Bill, 2023 placed in JS Kamal said that according to data of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the total population is 170.79 million and the current per capita debt is around $364.85. According to the information provided by the finance minister, the highest $19,536.82 million was taken from the World Bank as loan. While replying to a query of AL MP Kazim Uddin Ahmed from Mymensingh-11, the finance minister said that according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) standards, as of October 12, the amount of gross foreign reserve in the country is $ 21,116.59 million. He said that as a result of the increase in the prices of various products including fuel in the international market, due to the increase in import costs and the decrease in the amount of remittances, the amount of foreign exchange reserves has decreased, but there is no shortage of reserve in the country. Secure Transactions of (Moveable Assets) Bill, 2023 passed to broaden collateral terms In response to a question of Jatiya Party MP Mashiur Rahman Ranga, the finance minister said that in the last five years (2019-2023), 1408 kg of gold has been recovered by the customs authorities of the airport. The estimated value of which is Tk 1,226 crores. He said that 1272.10 kg of recovered gold has been deposited with the Bangladesh Bank. While replying to a query of AL MP Nurunnabi Chowdhury from Bhola-3, the finance minister said that the number of tax identification number holders in the country till September this year is 93.46 lakh. He also said that as per Income Tax Act-2023 spot tax assessment has been abolished. Bangladesh Dairy Development Board Bill, 2023 passed in JS In response to a question of AL MP Mahfuzur Rahman from Chattogram-3, the finance minister said that till June, 2023, the number of individual taxpayers in the country is 89.53 lakh. In response to the question of Jatiya Party MP Syed Abu Hussain, the finance minister said the Ukraine-Russia war and war-related sanctions have resulted in increased inflation, reduced foreign exchange reserves and some pressure on currency exchange rates. The government has taken various steps to reduce inflation and restructure reserves, he said.