'Exposers of corruption pay the price, while the corrupt get away'

Jatiya Party chairman GM Quader
Prothom Alo

Deputy leader of the opposition in parliament, GM Quader, has said that those who are carrying out corruption are getting away, while those who are exposing them are paying the price.

Investigative journalism serves to ensure accountability, he said, adding that it was the responsibility of society to give them this scope.

Jatiya Party chairman GM Quader made this comment in the Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) today, Monday, during the discussion on the 2020-21 fiscal's supplementary budget.

GM Quader went on to say, the allocation of the health sector in the budget proposal is 0.83 per cent of the GDP. This should have been 4 to 5 per cent. The economy will pick up when coronavirus is brought under control and so health must be given attention. It should not be neglected, but it is being neglected.

The Jatiya Party chairman said that from the media it has been learnt that grants being provided to the health sector are being misappropriated. But those who are caught and charged are not ultimately punished. They somehow slip through the loopholes. They embezzle huge sums of money, but get away. Those who publicly expose their misdeeds face all sorts of problems.

GM Quader said, a few days ago a journalist was harassed in various way. She was even grabbed by the throat. A case was filed against her. There are rumours that she may be charged with sedition. She may face serious punishment.

The Jatiya Party leader said, "We want the rule of law. Anyone committing a crime should be punished. Those in the media have certain responsibilities. Journalism is a pillar of the state. Investigative journalism aims at ensuring accountability. So society has the responsibility to give journalists that scope."

Concerning the supplementary budget, GM Quader said that just as it was not normal to spend less than the budget, excessive spending was also abnormal. He said the reasons behind these discrepancies needed to be identified and analysed. When proposals were made for any increase in allocation, investigations should be made to see if there is any corruption involved or if the estimation has been inaccurate. Those responsible for the errors must be held accountable. He said that the discussion on the supplementary budget was more or less useless. No one made any relevant observations. There was no reflection of any accountability. If expenditure is curtailed in a planned manner, this can be seen as austerity. But being unable to spend is inefficiency and those responsible must be taken to task.

The Jatiya Party chairman said the supplementary budget discussion was now just a perfunctory matter and was of no benefit to the parliament or the people.

GM Quader said, the finance minister had stated that 80 per cent of the people would be vaccinated and that every month 2.5 million (25 lakh) people would be vaccinated. That means it would take 10 years for two does to be given to 80 per cent of the population. So what would happen about lives and livelihood in these 10 years? What would happen to the economy? He said he hoped the finance minister would respond to these questions.

The deputy leader of opposition in parliament went on to say, it is still not certain when the vaccine will be procured and from where. Some vaccines have come as donations in a friendly gesture. A contract was signed with one company for the vaccines and when they failed to supply these, there was no alternative. Now uncertainty prevails over the vaccine. We just hear assurances of the vaccine coming. If they fail to bring the vaccine, both life and livelihood will be at risk. The economy will fall flat on its face too.

No arrangement has been made in the budget for the employment of the middle and lower class, GM Quader pointed out. Corporate tax has been decreased and that means the wealthy will get wealthier and the poor will get poorer. Many feel that this budget will be very effective in pleasing the rich. Experts say this budget is a budget of the businessman, by the businessman for the businessman. They have appeased the big businesspersons, but not the medium and lower level business people.