Amid strong opposition from Jatiya Party and BNP MPs, a bill was passed in parliament on Wednesday allowing the government to bring the surplus money of self-governed agencies to the national exchequer, reports UNB.
Both Jatiya Party and BNP MPs termed the bill a 'black', 'dangerous' and 'anti-people' one and all of them refrained from bringing their amendment proposals on the 'Deposition of Surplus Money of Self-Governed Agencies including Autonomous, Semi-Autonomous and Statutory Government Authorities and Public Non-Financial Corporations to the National Exchequer Bill 2020'.
MPs of the main opposition voted 'No' when the Speaker placed the bill for voice vote in the House. MPs of another opposition BNP staged a walkout protesting the passage of the bill.
This is for the first time in recent history of the country's parliament that no MP raised any amendment proposal on a bill.
Opposition MPs demanded withdrawal of the bill from the house to send it for eliciting public opinions.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal faced blistering attacks from the MPs when he placed the bill in the house with speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
The MPs who harshly criticised the bill are Kazi Firoz Rashid, Mujibul Haque, Fakrul Imam and Shameem Haider Patwary of Jatiya Party, and Harunur Rashid and Rumeen Farhana of BNP.
They said if the ruling party unilaterally passes the bill with their 'brute' majority, it will invite dire consequences for the country's economy.
Rumeen Farhana said the government paid attention to the funds of self-governed agencies after looting the money of government organisations.
"Since the government is heavily indebted, the bill was brought to loot the money of the self-governed organisations," she said, adding that if the bill is passed, it will have a huge adverse impact on the share market.
"As the bill is black and anti-people, I withdraw my amendment motion on the bill," said the BNP MP.
Fakrul Imam said the government now looks at the funds of the self-governed bodies after looting the bank money. "Many countries and many parties were destroyed going to misuse the brute majority."
Harunur Rashid said the government has initiated the move to collect the money from the fund of the self-governed agencies as there was massive corruption in the mega projects.
"If the bill is passed, the 61 self-governed organisations will be destroyed and their efficiency will decline," he said.
Kazi Firoz Rashid said if the government passes the bill by dint of their 'brute' majority, the consequences will be dire and the financial discipline will collapse. "The government puts its hands into the pockets of people after looting the money from banks. Bring back the laundered money as tens of thousands of crores of Taka were siphoned off the country," he said pointing at the finance minister.
Taking a swipe at the finance minister, Mujibul Haque said it is normal that this situation turned worse when the country's finance minister is a businessman.
Noting that the present finance minister was a talented student and successful businessman, Mujibul said, "We had expected that he would make the economy stronger, but this didn't happen."
Shameem Haider Patwary termed the bill 'disgusting, dangerous and anti-state' one, saying the passage of the bill would be a historical mistake and the finance minister would be held responsible for that.
"If the government passes the bill for having the brute majority, it would be first step of the fall of the nation... the total financial system will collapse and it'll bring disruption in economy," he said, adding that such law was used to be enacted in the colonial period to loot the money.
In reply to the MPs' remarks, the finance minister said the law is being enacted to bring the financial discipline. "The people of the country would largely be benefited and the country would march forward further due to the law," he said.
According to the bill, the surplus funds of self-governed agencies will have to be deposited to the national exchequer after keeping aside the operational cost, additional 25 per cent of the operational cost as emergency funds, money for general provident fund and pension.
The respective organisation can estimate its operational cost.
If an organisation does not provide correct information about the funds, legal actions will be taken against it, the bill said.
The cabinet approved the draft bill on 2 September last year when the cabinet secretary said as per the latest balance of 68 organisations, an amount of over Tk 2.12 trillion remains stagnant as FDR in different banks and the money is not being invested for its better use.
So, he said, the government policy is to bring the surplus money to the national exchequer with the proposed law for financing different development projects and supporting public welfare.
Of them, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation has Tk 215,8 billion, while Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation) Tk 182.04 billion, Power Development Board Tk 134.54 billion, Chattogram Seaport Tk 99.13 billion and Rajuk (Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha) Tk 40.3 billion.