Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban
Jatiya Sangsad BhabanProthom Alo file photo

Only nine per cent of the total time was spent on enacting laws in the 11th parliament in 2019, reveals a Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) report on Wednesday.

Sixteen bills (excluding the budget bills) were passed in five sessions and six of them were amended laws.

On average, only around 32 minutes were spent to pass each bill. The time includes time to present the bill in parliament, MPs discussion and the minister’s speech. The time the Indian parliament took on average for passing a law in 2019 is 186 minutes.

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The TIB report also said that most of the parliamentary committees did not discuss the bill with due importance. Only four per cent (14 out of 350) MPs took part in discussion on bills giving notices. Role of rest of the MPs were limited to casting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ voice vote.

TIB observed that the absolute majority of the ruling party ensured through parliamentary elections intensified their exercise of monopoly power in parliamentary activities

TIB unveiled the report ‘Parliament Watch’ through a virtual press conference. Deputy programme managers of the anti-graft watchdog, Nihar Ranjan Roy and Morsheda Akter, presented the report.

The report further said there was a lack of efficiency of some of the MPs in presenting their opinions and speeches as per the rules of procedure while speeches of most of the MPs show lack of background research.

TIB observed that the absolute majority of the ruling party ensured through parliamentary elections intensified their exercise of monopoly power in parliamentary activities. The scope for discussion in parliament on the implementation of SDGs and objectives is not yet satisfactory.

Though the MPs of both the treasury and opposition benches demanded taking actions against the bank loan defaulters, criticised continuous subsidy in the bank sector and decreasing the rate of interest of sanchaypatra (savings paper), the issues could not draw sufficient attention of the policy makers.

The opposition MPs’ proposal to elicit public opinion on the Finance Bill-2019 was also rejected in voice vote, it added.

Though there is a Constitutional compulsion to present all the agreements with foreign countries, except the ones that are related to national security, in parliament through the president, no such accords were discussed in parliament in the five sessions.

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News agency UNB adds: The 11th national parliament lost Tk 22,08,63,627 in monetary value of time lost due to quorum crisis (19.26 hours) throughout session one to five.

The time lost due to quorum crisis was 17.3 per cent of the total 61 session days spanning from January to December last year. The average quorum crisis per working day was 19 minutes.

The TIB report showed that 61 per cent of the members of 11th parliament are businessmen. Among other members, 13 per cent are lawyers, five per cent politicians and 21 per cent are people from other professions (teachers, physicians, farmers, retired government and military officers, housewives, consultants etc.).

Focusing on the educational qualification, the study said about 77 per cent elected MPs are graduates, post graduates or above qualified, about 12 per cent have educational qualifications of HSC or equivalent while about 11 per cent have passed SSC or have lower institutional education.

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said parliamentary activities are not effective in formulating budgets and laws.

“The opposition party did not show strong participation in the election. Standing committees have played an effective role, such instances are rare,” he said.

TIB put forward a set of recommendations to make the parliament more effective. That include making national elections participatory, fair and neutral in the real sense, amending Article 70 of the Constitution to allow MPs to express their opinions and take position against the party line and enacting the ‘MPs’ Code of Conduct Bill’ with necessary changes.