Friday, June 22, 2018

Skip Navigation Links
 
link
 
link
SUPPLEMENT

Visitor Login










Khaleda’s health concern bites into government’s credibility

Shahid Islam

It’s an election year; although cloud of uncertainty blurs the political horizon by keeping the nation under suspense with respect to whether the country’s main opposition party will join the electoral race unless its demand for an interim regime is fulfilled to have the election conducted in a fair, unfettered manner. Added to this is the health concern of the BNP’s chairperson Khaleda Zia, who had undergone in prison some sort of sensual lapses of late, suspected as a minor stroke.

Full Story

Shahid Islam

It’s an election year; although cloud of uncertainty blurs the political horizon by keeping the nation under suspense with respect to whether the country’s main opposition party will join the electoral race unless its demand for an interim regime is fulfilled to have the election conducted in a fair, unfettered manner. Added to this is the health concern of the BNP’s chairperson Khaleda Zia, who had undergone in prison some sort of sensual lapses of late, suspected as a minor stroke.

Genuine health hazard
The former PM has not been transferred to a hospital immediately after she became senseless and remained unconscious for nearly ten minutes.  Nor the prison authorities informed her next of kin, or party bosses, about this grave health deterioration of their leader. Being of the age of 73 — and having undergone the trauma imposed by deaths of close family members, including a son (Koko); eviction from a house where over four decades’ of memory starred painfully as she was forcefully thrown out; and now staying dumped in a ghost-infested abode for an alleged crime and conviction that had not benefitted her a penny personally—her health is certainly an issue that the prison authorities cannot just brush aside under any form of dictate from the power that be.

Mud-slinging politics
As she suffers in the prison, with serious health risk that could plausibly snatch away the last breath from her life, the government wants to make sure she goes for a treatment at the Bongobondhu Medical College Hospital, which she doesn’t like or prefer. Her party leaders insist she should be sent to her chosen private hospital, the United, that has better medical equipment like the MRI, and better lodging arrangement which the government-run hospitals lack.
But politics in Bangladesh has its own odour, and no wonder some ruling party leaders say the BNP leader is unwilling to go to the Bongobondhu hospital due to the name by which the hospital is run.
Our inquiry shows that not to be the reason. The first reason, as per some BNP insiders, is the security risk in the Bongobondhu medical college hospital due to most of its physicians and technicians being of AL indoctrination, denomination, and hence, blatantly partisan.  They are by nature antagonistic to Khaleda Zia.
This may sound incredible and, the world will simply laugh at hearing that doctors of a nation can be tagged with partisan rubric to pose grave threat to patience belonging to perceived or real opposition camps.That is however the reality in all public-run installations and institutions of this nation. The second reason is: even the VVIP suites in the Bongobondhu hospital are worse than normal cabins in any professionally run private hospital.

Jail code and humanism
As this political mud-slinging goes on, the charade is robbing the BNP leader of her vitality to survive; unless a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment gets her out of this impending, life-threatening health hazard. The jail code may allow a prisoner to be treated at the public hospitalsonly, but, as George Orwell reiterated, some animals are alwaysmore equal than the others. A three time PM of the country—and an agile, uncompromising leader with the laurels to have snatched democracy from the jaws of dictatorship in the late 1980s— deserves to be more than equal by any count.Moreover, above all laws and regulations lies the innate codes of humanism that must reign supreme in any civilized society.

Political charade, painful parade
This political charade, or the painful parade, relating to the health of an old lady is not playing well in the public arena in an election year. By now, the nation has embraced Khaleda as a victim of the ruling party’s vendetta and recrimination. If she dies in prison, she’ll be a martyr of much distinction; as was her husband who emerged bigger in death than in life. God forbid, if Khaleda dies in prison, the BNP will then be more popular as a party for two reasons.
First: the party’s founding leader, ZiaurRahman, introduced multi-party democracy in the late 1970s in a country that became a one-party dictatorship after having won independence under the incessant quest for pluralistic democracy. Secondly: the BNP under Khaleda Zia too sought and strove to restore democracy amid a similar attempt to turn this nation into a one-party monopolistic political entity.
Hence, Khaleda’s death in prison will make her such a colossus in the cause of democracy restoration that no amount of eye-washing, guile, or hoodwink by any quarter will be able to eviscerate or diminish the glow of that feather of glory.

Last words
This was happening just before the Holy Eid-Ul-Fitr when many non-risk-posing prisoners even get pardoned as a gesture from the state. Here we have an uncompromising leader and former PM rotting in the prison due to her High-Court-granted bail being blocked by other warrants of arrest foisted upon her one after another; under a blueprint to throw her out of the political orbitor, to get her outright decimated.
May be, as a nation, we should get back to senses to leave for the posterity some magnanimous anecdotes that—like the globally acclaimed caretaker interim regime formula we once introduced and followed—others can emulate. As it stands now, the ‘Khaleda charade’ is badly biting into the credibility of the incumbent regime and the nation alike. It should end sooner.


Login to post comments


(0)



Global pressure mounts for inclusive polls in Bangladesh

Shakhawat Hossain

As the next general polls draw nearer, the Western countries including United States of America (USA), European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have started pressing the government of Sheikh Hasina for holding free, fair and inclusive polls in Bangladesh for the sake of consolidation of the fundamental basis of democracy in the country.
The international community, which had earlier raised questions about the credibility of 5 January election, are now been reportedly raising the issue afresh for an inclusive election in Bangladesh.Significantly, the three western powers have categorically asked the government for inclusion of the main opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), in the next election so that it looks participatory one.

Full Story

Shakhawat Hossain

As the next general polls draw nearer, the Western countries including United States of America (USA), European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have started pressing the government of Sheikh Hasina for holding free, fair and inclusive polls in Bangladesh for the sake of consolidation of the fundamental basis of democracy in the country.
The international community, which had earlier raised questions about the credibility of 5 January election, are now been reportedly raising the issue afresh for an inclusive election in Bangladesh.Significantly, the three western powers have categorically asked the government for inclusion of the main opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), in the next election so that it looks participatory one.

Though they may not have raised their voice for inclusive polls very strongly, the western powers are stressing that the next general election should be a “participatory” and “credible” one.
Otherwise, they fear, the political instability in the country will make way to grow terrorism and many other problems in the country.
The next general election is due later this year. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has indicated it would be held in December, 2018.

AL, BNP gear up for post-Eid face-off
The country’s political arena is abuzz with an imminent face-off between the Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) with both parties preparing to hit the streets after Eid-ul-Fitr. In an apparent show of strength ahead of the next general election, which may be held by the end of this year, the BNP is planning to launch a tough anti-government movement after the major religious festival of the Muslims later this month. On the other hand, ruling AL asserted that the government was prepared to resist any attempt to create anarchy by opposition leaders and activists.
On the other hand, ruling Awami League has taken the upcoming city corporation polls as a dress rehearsal leading up to the 11th parliamentary election scheduled for December this year. The elections to Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal city corporations will be held on July 30 while the schedule for the national nation will be announced in October. AL leaders and activists said as there is no other election before the national election, the party is considering the upcoming city polls as a dress rehearsal of the next big election.
Within this context, one important issue is overlooked - the government is bending the institutions to such a degree that the lines between political parties, government, judiciary and administrative divisions are increasingly getting blurred, and all the institutions are succumbing to the will of the ruling party. There is no institutional integrity any more.
Finally, it looks like there will be further destruction, and many more lives will be sacrificed before any kind of settlement is achieved, but the biggest fear is that nobody knows when and in what form such a settlement will materialize.

Bangladesh’s journey for democracy is yet to end
With a general election on the horizon, various diplomatic missions are stepping up their efforts to help things run as smoothly as possible. The American, British and Indian ambassadors have all visited the Election Commission in recent months, as has the UN resident co-ordinator for Bangladesh. They have publicly expressed their concerns for the forthcoming election, and implored the commission to take measures to avoid the boycotts and violence that marred the election process last time around. Some in Bangladesh welcome these entreaties, but others in the ruling alliance consider them nothing more than attempts to meddle in their country’s affairs.
Already it’s turning into a rerun of the same old election story as the incumbent Awami League and its allies insist that the election will be held under the current government rather than a non-partisan caretaker regime, a device previously used to take the management of the election out of partisan hands. Meanwhile, the alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) says it will do whatever’s necessary to stop the government from holding an election without giving up full control of the electoral process.
Everyone concerned clearly remembers the turbulence of the 2014 election, when all sorts of political violence boiled over, claiming many innocent lives. But the explanation for why it happened is still a matter of heated debate.

Difficult transition
A non-party caretaker government has been one such important tool that helped people effectuate a peaceful, and one might add fair transition of power, albeit with an exception in 2007 when the caretaker government illegally held on to power for two years.
The ruling Awami League, however, wants to reverse this course. They have amended the constitution to hold the election under an “all party” government, effectively headed by them, to be held on January 5, 2014, which the opposition parties, led by BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party), have summarily rejected.
In the absence of an opposition, 154 of the 300 seats have already been won by ruling members of parliament and their allies, without even one vote being cast, giving them a majority. The media is reporting a number of procedural lapses by the election commission to ensure the election of the 154 MPs would be unopposed. But, the Awami League is unfazed and undaunted. They are steadily cruising on the course they have set, stating that it is a constitutional requirement.
But, the results of the last few local elections quite clearly indicate that the government led by Sheikh Hasina has lost popularity as they have failed to win any significant elections held in the last two years. Even when the opposition boycotted, heavyweights of her party lost to rebels in her own party.
BNP is now structurally, a very weak organisation as one of their main party leaders, Tariq Zia, the BNP supremo Khaleda Zia’s elder son, has been living in exile. Additionally, they haven’t been proactive in organising their party after their defeat in the 2007 elections. On the other hand, Awami League is in complete control over all the machineries of the government, including judiciary, administration, military and police through party faithful in key positions.
Sheikh Hasina, it seems, isn’t prepared to heed what the opposition or the broader international community are asking. She is also strongly backed by India. BNP is thus powerless to change the course that has been set by the Bangladesh Awami League.
Bangladeshis’ desire to bring in a new set of rulers may have popular support in favour of BNP, but very few people, other than hard core party activists, are interested in joining any kind of protests or programmes on the streets.

UNHRC calls for free, fair and inclusive polls
Referring to violence and excessive use of force by state actors during the previous general elections, the UN Human Rights Committee insisted that Bangladesh should ensure the safety and security of all voters during elections.
During the 30th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the HRC in Geneva, some countries such as USA, Australia and Switzerland have learnt to put stress on ensuring free, fair and inclusive polls in Bangladesh. Besides, Japan has also recommended ensuring a free, fair and inclusive general election, with full participation of all parties, and stepping up efforts to strengthen democracy in Bangladesh.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has also asked the government of Bangladesh to investigate all cases of arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances and excessive use of force, and prosecute and punish perpetrators. The inter-governmental UN body also called for establishing the truth about the fate and whereabouts of victims of the disappearances. Furthermore, ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICED) was stressed.
Several countries, including Austria, Norway, France and the Netherlands, called upon the government to ensure that journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and civil society organisations were able to carry out their activities without fear of surveillance, intimidation, harassment, arrest, prosecution or retribution. Such recommendations were made at the ‘Universal Periodic Review’ (UPR) organised by the council in Geneva.
Later on, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has adopted the draft report on the human rights review of Bangladesh, with recommendations on taking steps to halt forced disappearance, extra judicial killing, and ensure freedom of expression in media, politics and religion.
During the 30th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the HRC in Geneva, the UN member states made 251 recommendations. According to the HRC Secretariat and UPR, some 105 delegations took part on the third-cycle review of Bangladesh’s human rights situation. Of the recommendations, 167 were accepted, 60 were noted and the rest would be answered later. Bangladesh will give its final answer no later than the 39th Session of the HRC, slated for September.

EU wants inclusive, credible polls in Bangladesh
The European Union (EU) at a recent meeting held in Dhaka has hoped that the government of Bangladesh will ensure conditions for credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
At the meeting, Bangladesh also reiterated its commitment to provide all-out support to the Election Commission in holding free, fair, and credible election.
The issues came up for discussions at the biennial meeting of the Subgroup on Good Governance and Human Rights in the framework of the EU-Bangladesh Cooperation Agreement (CA) held in Dhaka, said a joint press statement.
At the outset, the EU delegation appreciated the generous and humane role and action of the people and the government of Bangladesh for hosting the Rohingya people fleeing violence in Myanmar.
Earlier in March, 2018, the European Union high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Maria Mogherini in Brussels and US President Donald Trump’s aide Lisa Curtis during her visit to Bangladesh, UK secretary of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson during his Dhaka visit, and a delegation of European Union during in their Dhaka visit called for an inclusive election in Bangladesh.
According to Diplomatic sources, though the call for inclusive polls was not a main agenda in the discussions, the representatives of some countries raised the issue while discussing the country’s political situation.
It was reported that the Maria Mogherini raised the issue of the election during a meeting with Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali recently. It was learnt from officials in Dhaka and Brussels that the meeting was arranged on short notice and on Federica’s initiative to discuss the Rohingya crisis. At one point, the political situation came up in the discussion and Federica raised the issue of inclusive polls. She urged the Bangladesh government to conduct inclusive polls and stressed on a free, fair and credible election.
In reply, Bangladesh foreign minister told her that the government is not asking anyone not to participate in the election. He told her that though the BNP boycotted the general election on 5 January 2014, they participated in the local government elections and many BNP candidates won in different levels of the election. He went on to tell her that the election commission is trying its level best to conduct a free, fair and credible election and the government also wants BNP to take part in the election. The Bangladesh foreign minister also urged her to tell BNP to participate in the next election. In reply, Federica told Mahmud Ali that an EU delegation has urged BNP leaders to participate the next election during their discussion with them.

US, UK for fair, inclusive polls
The United States and United Kingdom on February 28, 2018 laid emphasis on free, fair and participatory elections and noted that democracy is of paramount important for the development of the country. Washington and London also stressed that free and fair election is not only about the polling day but also a level-playing field for all in the run up to the day on which people should have the right to exercise their right to franchise.
US ambassador Marcia Bernicat and UK High Commissioner Alison Blake were shedding lights on Bangladeshi politics in the lead up to the next parliamentary elections in two different programmes at two different venues.
While in a programme arranged to introduce new British deputy high commissioner and head of communication at the high commission’s staff amenities centre in Baridhara, UK chief of mission Blake also placed great emphasis on free, fair and participatory election and said that these are the most important aspects for the stability and prosperity of the country.
While talking to newsmen on 28 February, 2018 at the British Amenities Club, British High Commissioner in Dhaka, Alison Blake said that one of the key agendas during Boris Johnson’s Dhaka visit was to urge for a free, fair, credible and inclusive election. British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit on February 9, 2018.

Lisa Curtis wants to see inclusive elections
On 3 March, 2018, US president Donald Trump’s aide Lisa Curtis called for inclusive polls. She also raised the issue while having meeting with senior Bangladesh government officials including the prime minister’s international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi, the prime minister’s security adviser Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique and Foreign secretary Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali. The foreign minister told her that the government is committed to a free, fair, credible and inclusive election and would welcome observers from varies countries including the US. Following a query from Curtis, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh is committed to a free, fair and participatory election and that observers from different countries, including the US, are welcome.

Election diplomacy and the India factor
Bangladesh’s political landscape is extraordinarily toxic. Whenever they’re out of power, parties lose all faith that the sitting government can or will convene a fair election. The Election Commission is independent on paper, but not in practice, and ever since the 1990-91 transition from military to parliamentary rule in Bangladesh, every general election has taken place in a climate of ominous uncertainty.
The pattern is clear: whichever party is in power tries to manipulate the electoral architecture and exploit a politicised public sector, while the opposition demand that a non-partisan caretaker government should be installed to provide a level playing field. And each time, the situation turns lethal.
As a result, Bangladeshi elections invariably attract the diplomatic attention of the international community. This pressure is applied mainly by Western diplomatic missions, the European Union, the United Nations and so on. Various high-level envoys and teams have visited Bangladesh over the years to help build consensus among the political parties and set up some kind of interim government to arrange a free and fair election.
Apart from the Western countries, India has been particularly influential ever. Even after the disputed 2014 election, it endorsed the Awami League’s victory even though many Western governments and outside organisations expressed their reservations; through its influence on South Asian geopolitics and diplomacy, India ultimately managed to sway the international community to acknowledge the result.
But India’s relationship with Bangladesh and its politics is far from simple. The two countries are still wrangling over a number of unresolved issues, such as the flow of major international rivers, transit, terrorism, border control, and investment. Their overall relationship is best described as bittersweet, and its particular flavour is still subject to who is in power in Bangladesh.
India enjoys a much warmer relationship with the Awami League than with the BNP – but since the 2014 election, both parties have worked hard to improve their connections with the current Indian government. Still, anti-India sentiment is commonplace, mainly because of the patron-like attitude India takes, especially while the Awami League is in office.
Regarding the participation in the upcoming polls, Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on June 5 said that all political parties will contest the next general election even if the Bangladesh Nationalist Party refrains from contesting it. After attending a seminar organised by Awami League subcommittee on forest and environment at National Museum to mark World Environment Day, Quader, also the road transport and bridges minster, told reporters that they are sincerely wanting for holding an inclusive election. ‘All the political parties have started their preparations for taking part in the next general election,’ Quader said.
In response, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has claimed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had sought ‘guarantee’ from India to unilaterally hold the next general election in return to her government’s services to India. BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi at a news briefing at the party central office made the remarks.
However, India’s open support for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina became the biggest reason for the criticism against her. When Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh went to meet Jatiya Party chairman Hussain Muhammad Ershad to dissuade him from boycotting the polls, the move boomeranged badly. At a press conference called directly after the meeting, Mr. Ershad announced that Ms. Singh had told him India was “opposed to the rise of parties allied to the Jamaat-e-Islami”, and the rhetoric against India only rose with the perception that it was playing a larger role than Bangladeshis would want any foreign country to play. This also gave rise to the claim that India is actively meddling with local politics and is on a collision course against people’s will for a free and fair election. India has trained and sent special operations teams in Bangladesh. India is also lobbying Western countries to take Ms. Hasina’s side.
While Delhi maintains a status quo on Hasina; it is now imperative for her to ‘win’ in an election where all parties participate to come back to power for the third term. But can she do it? Though Hasina’s core support base of 35-37 per cent voters appears to be intact; her government is suffering from serious anti-incumbency, owing to poor governance and unabated corruption.
And, it might be difficult for the Bangladesh Awami League to win a bipolar contest, which has been the norm in Bangladesh so far. Bangladesh’s record of political vengeance might lead to serious instability in the region; which is not in India’s interests.

BNP seeks Delhi’s support for fair polls
According to The Hindu, some senior leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have reportedly appealed to India’s Narendra Modi government to support a free and fair elections in Bangladesh due in December.
Accusing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government of attempting to establish a “one-party rule”, they reportedly said that India must be seen as a “champion of democracy and human rights” in the region.
“It is important for the Bangladeshi people to see their big neighbour play such a constructive role, and not back any certain party in the elections,” BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Chowdhury told the Indian newspaper.
The Hindu claimed that the BNP delegation, which was in New Delhi, to improve ties across parties and speak at a number of think tanks with a mission to “dispel” the long-held preference in India to deal with the Awami League.
Khosru referred to the “misperception” in Bangladesh that India supports all actions by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League.
“If democracy prevails in Bangladesh, then whoever wins, it is a win for India,” he was quoted to have said.
The Hindu said since 2014, when the BNP boycotted elections in Bangladesh, and gave Sheikh Hasina a virtual walkover, the BNP has struggled with its loss of power.
Ahead of the elections, India’s the then external affairs secretary Sujatha Singh visited Dhaka and advocated holding of the ballot boycotted by all opposition political parties.
The Hindu also reported that the Hasina government has filed an estimated 78,000 cases against the entire rank and file of the BNP, which the leaders claimed meant that about 1.8 million BNP workers and office-bearers had been charged, arrested or forced into exile.
In an interview with The Hindu in 2016, Sheikh Hasina had denied that the cases were politically motivated, saying they pertained to criminal charges of violence and corruption.
In February this year, 72-year-old chairperson of BNP and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was sentenced to five years of imprisonment on charges of embezzlement of charity funds pertaining to a 1991 case.
The verdict could bar the entire top leadership of the BNP from standing for elections this year, which its delegation reportedly said would stifle the “democratic and electoral space” which they said has “fuelled religious extremism as well.”
“The absence of participation and inclusive democracy in Bangladesh will drive many groups that have been targeted underground,” warned Khosru.
“The only way forward is for India to lead the international community in ensuring free elections, under an impartial election commission, monitored by them,” he told The Hindu.

BNP sees positive change in India’s attitude towards Bangladesh election!
Two senior BNP leaders, who recently visited India, have claimed to have found a positive change in the attitude of the neighbouring country towards having a credible, neutral and inclusive election in Bangladesh.
BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo said they had been there in India from June 3 to 10 and joined three seminars and talked to Indian politicians and civil society members over various issues, including Bangladesh’s upcoming national election.
Three seminars on Bangladesh-India relations, Bangladesh’s current politics and Bangladesh’s next general election were arranged by Observer Research Foundation, Vivekananda International Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
“We’d discussions with different Indian think-tank organisations, civil-society members, politicians and journalist during our recent visit in the country. They’ve realised Bangladesh’s crisis ahead of the national election and they’re thinking about its way out which we thank a positive change,” Khosru said.
He said India wants Bangladesh’s next election to be held in a free and fair and neutral manner with the participation of all parties. “If India plays any visible role to reflect the hopes and aspirations of people of Bangladesh, we think it’ll be positive for the bilateral relations of the two neighbouring country,” the BNP leader said.
Khosru said they told the Indian leaders and civil society members as to how Awami League has been in power by squeezing democratic space, snatching people’s rights and resorting to respective acts, and its efforts to hang onto power by force.
“They heard us and have their some confusion cleared through asking us many questions,” he said. He said different democratic countries are raising their voice to restore democratic atmosphere, the rule of law, human rights, and press freedom in Bangladesh.
“We hope India will also play the same role ahead of the next election.” Mintoo said Indian leaders and others heard their speeches with their deep attention.
“We’ve found a change in their attitude through their discussions and gesture and poster.” He also said India does not want a perception to create among Bangladeshi people that it is biased to any particular party. “They want to see a free, fair and participatory election here.”
Mintoo said the India politicians and civil society members said their country will remain careful so that no one can say India interferes in Bangladesh’s internal affairs and it is biased to any party regarding the next general election.

PM Hasina’s strategy
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has undertaken a strategy to win this election by dividing the Opposition votes. The BNP, which was under enormous pressure since the war crimes trials began, is in disarray after the arrest of the 72-year-old Zia, in a fund embezzlement case in February.
Her release may be inordinately delayed as she is facing 37 cases, including the one on grenade attack on Hasina in 2004. Zia’s son, Tarique Rahman, and the second in command in the party, has been living in exile to avoid arrest.
Though the BNP is determined to participate in the 2018 polls; and there is no major exodus from the party ranks either; many believe the leadership crisis may limit its electoral prospects.
This coupled with the cropping up of some third and fourth alternatives — like the coalition led by the former military dictator HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party (JP) or an anticipated coalition between three-four smaller parties — are likely to keep the voters divided.
Hasina has already extended the olive branch to Hefatzat-e-Islam (protector of Islam), a radical non-political force, by making compromises in school textbooks etc; with an aim to keep the Islamic votes divided. With the army (a separate power centre in Bangladesh as in many countries in South Asia) supporting Hasina; her prospects look bright at this juncture. But, all plans look good till they start going wrong.

Inclusive polls ‘now a big challenge
According to political analysts and civil society members, with BNP chief Khaleda Zia being sentenced to five years in prison, the equation for holding the next general election in a participatory manner has become more complicated.
As the BNP has an important position in the county’s politics, the election won’t be a participatory one without its participation. Furthermore, the conviction and sentencing of the BNP chairperson has worsened the enmity between the two rival camps. The conviction has cast doubts whether Khaleda, a three-time prime minister, would be allowed to participate in the polls.
There is a longstanding disagreement between the two political arch-rivals on how the election should be held. The BNP-led opposition alliance has long been saying that it would not join any election if it is held under the Hasina-led administration. But the Awami League (AL) is sticking to its guns that the election would be held under the Hasina-led administration, just like the one in 2014.


Login to post comments


(0)



Tk 4,64,573 cr budget placed

Tax receipts Tk 3,39,280 cr: Deficit financing Tk 1,25,293 cr: revenue  expenditure Tk 2,91,573 cr: ADP allocation Tk 1,73,000 cr: GDP Growth 7.8 per cent

Faruque Ahmed

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on June 7 placed a mammoth budget of Tk 4,64,573 crore before Jatiya Sangsad for fiscal (2018-19) targeting an economic growth of 7.8 percent to transform the country towards greater prosperity.
This is Muhith 12 budget and 10th for Awami League government in consecutive years under the two terms. He opened the budget speech themed as “Bangladesh on Pathway to Prosperity,” in the full House in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Full Story

Tax receipts Tk 3,39,280 cr: Deficit financing Tk 1,25,293 cr: revenue  expenditure Tk 2,91,573 cr: ADP allocation Tk 1,73,000 cr: GDP Growth 7.8 per cent

Faruque Ahmed

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on June 7 placed a mammoth budget of Tk 4,64,573 crore before Jatiya Sangsad for fiscal (2018-19) targeting an economic growth of 7.8 percent to transform the country towards greater prosperity.
This is Muhith 12 budget and 10th for Awami League government in consecutive years under the two terms. He opened the budget speech themed as “Bangladesh on Pathway to Prosperity,” in the full House in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Muhith saids he was “presenting the budget at such a time when the country’s economy is in the best phase and this is also the last budget of the ruling Awami League government.  
He said the average economic growth rate hit 7.0 per cent in the last couple of year and the economy is expected to grow by 7.65 per cent in the outgoing fiscal year 2017-18 based on pragmatic economic policies of the Awami League government.  
“Our government’s capacity for rapid implementation of socio-economic development plans has already been proved at home and abroad. The country has left behind the stigma of a ‘bottomless basket’, long ago and it is considered as a development miracle at global level. It is already a global role model.”
He said the proposed budget has been focused on promoting economic growth, maintaining fiscal discipline, boosting exports gearing up investment for job creation striding on the people-friendly policies for socio-economic growth.
He said the budget has laid prime focus on human resource development and infrastructure while enhance allocations for social safety net proposed for providing maximum relief to vulnerable segments of the society.
Muhith said the total outlay of the proposed budget for the next fiscal year is Tk 4,64,573 crore (18.3 percent of GDP), up by 16 per cent over that of the original budget of the outgoing fiscal year 2017-18.
Of the total expenditure outlay, Tk 3,39,280 crore (13.4 per cent of GDP) is estimated to come from revenue receipts.
According to the proposal, the overall budget deficit will be Tk 1,25,293 crore, which is 4.9 per cent of GDP.  Of this an amount, of Tk 54,067 crore (2.1 per cent of GDP) will be financed from external sources while an amount of Tk 71,226 crore (2.8 per cent of GDP) will be financed from domestic sources.
Of the domestic sources, Tk 42,029 crore will be borrowed from banking system while Tk 29,197 crore will come from National Savings Schemes and other non-bank sources.  
The proposed budget has set a revenue collection target of Tk 2,96,201 crore (11.7 per cent of GDP) for the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and Tk 9,727 crore from non-NBR sources. Besides, the collection from non-tax sources is estimated at Tk 33,352 crore.
”It is essential to collect adequate revenue from internal sources to continue current economic progresses,” said Muhith adding, “We have emphasized on collection of revenue not by increasing tax rate but through expansion of tax base and encouraging self-compliance by reforming existing tax system.”  
According to the budget documents, an allocation of Tk 2,91,573 crore has been proposed for non-development and other expenditure and Tk 1,73,000 crore for development expenditure. An allocation of Tk 51,340 crore has been earmarked for the government’s debt servicing.
On the overall expenditure structure, Muhith proposed an allocation of 29.31 per cent of the total outlay for social infrastructure sector (education, health and others), 30.99 per cent for physical infrastructure, 11.43 per cent for communication sector and 5.36 per cent for power and energy sector. Besides, 25.30 per cent of the total allocation has been proposed for general services and 4.78 per cent for PPP.
The proposed budget forecast that inflation to remain about 5.6 per cent in the next fiscal year.
Earlier in the morning the cabinet in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, approved the proposed budget.


Login to post comments


(0)



China’s BRI may help Bangladesh progress

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a strategy proposed by China that focuses connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. It is argued that the gas and coal-based power plants, rail link and road-related infrastructure will be boosted under BRI.
Since Bangladesh lacks infrastructure, China’s BRI will help immensely in improving its roads and other related communication system. Bangladesh achieved 6% GDP growth every year for the last decade and China has been the largest trading partner. The BRI will boost local business because it is strengthening investment cooperation and people-to-people connectivity. China old “ping-pong” diplomacy has been replaced by its “cheque-diplomacy” at present.

Full Story

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a strategy proposed by China that focuses connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. It is argued that the gas and coal-based power plants, rail link and road-related infrastructure will be boosted under BRI.
Since Bangladesh lacks infrastructure, China’s BRI will help immensely in improving its roads and other related communication system. Bangladesh achieved 6% GDP growth every year for the last decade and China has been the largest trading partner. The BRI will boost local business because it is strengthening investment cooperation and people-to-people connectivity. China old “ping-pong” diplomacy has been replaced by its “cheque-diplomacy” at present.

In Africa, China’s politicians, lenders and businesses eye opportunities for growth and greater geopolitical influence through “Cheque-book” diplomacy. The China-Africa relationship — partly spontaneous and partly the fruit of an orchestrated push from Beijing — is shifting the commercial and geopolitical axis of an entire continent that many western governments had all but given up on.
While Europeans and Americans view Africa as a troubling source of instability, migration and terrorism, China sees opportunity in Africa which has oil, copper, cobalt and iron ore. It has markets for Chinese manufacturers and construction companies. And, perhaps least understood, it is a promising vehicle for Chinese geopolitical influence. The people of African countries recognise that they are most benefitted by China.
The American writer Howard French, whose book “China’s Second Continent” charts the experience of about 1m Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled in Africa. He writes. “Africa has been a field where China can try various things in a very low-risk environment. Africa has been a workshop of ideas that now have a much bigger scale and strategic significance.”
A few numbers illustrate the shift. In 2000, China-Africa trade was a mere $10bn. By 2014, that had risen more than 20-fold to $220bn according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, though it has fallen back because of lower commodity prices. Over that period, China’s foreign direct investment stocks have risen from just 2 per cent of US levels to 55 per cent, with billions of dollars of new investments being made each year.
China’s shifting economic growth model aligns with Sub-Saharan Africa’s imminent labor force boom, presenting a significant opportunity for both sides.
Senior Fellow of Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development John Thornton Centre, China, David Dollar shows evidence about the scale of trade, investment, infrastructure cooperation, and migration between China and Africa, all of which are relatively recent phenomena.
The growth of the global working-age population to 2030 will be driven primarily by Africa, which means that the relationship between growth and employment should be understood within the context of each countries’ projected demographic challenge and the associated implications for employment growth. Furthermore, a better understanding of the structure of each country’s workforce and the resulting implications for human capital development, the vulnerably employed, and the working poor, will be critical to informing the development policy agenda.
In December 2015, President Xi Jinping ushered in a new era of “real win-win cooperation” between China and Africa. This strategy aims to create mutual prosperity, allowing investors to “do good while doing right.” China has backed this proposal up with a commitment of $60 billion of new investment in major capital projects, which are tied to developing local economic capacity.
The billion-dollars level of commitment contrasts starkly with the action, or lack from the West. According to experts, Western banks and investment institutions tied to archaic and largely ineffective Africa investment models are in danger of missing out on the double digit returns that successful African investments provide. Overall there is strong and growing sentiment that the political upheavals and slow adoption of sustainable business models in Europe and America, present an opportunity for Asia and Africa to help each other to develop and thrive.
By 2050, 25% of the world’s nine billion population will be Africans and most of them will be under 30. To unlock the prosperity that such a human capital boon can lead to a transition must be made from financing strategies based on aggressive extraction of short-term high returns and raw materials to those focused on sustainability.
The commitments made by President Xi Jinping in 2015 follow this model – comprehensively targeting areas that should foster sustainable economic growth: industrialization, agriculture modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.
This change in investment approach appears to be working already, with the balance of influence in Africa increasingly favoring China’s state-led capitalism. Quartz published in October last showed 63% of the 56,000 people polled in 36 African countries responded that China’s influence in their countries was somewhat to very positive.
Chinese investments in infrastructure, development and businesses were cited as primary factors contributing to a positive image of China as an enabler of business in Africa. China also ranked highly on the external influence barometer at 23% , just edging out the U.S. .
By September 2016, Chinese companies had invested more than $14 billion in Africa – data from fdi Influence also shows that Chinese capital investment into Africa increased by 515% up to July 2016 over full-year 2015 figures. As African nations and the burgeoning private sector companies within them pursue exponential yet sustainable growth, the agility of the Chinese will be even more attractive.
Sustainability in African economic growth relies not only on goodwill from the East and the West, but also on African countries being able to add value, negotiate and focus on long-term goals in our various countries.

The author is a former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva


Login to post comments


(0)



United States trying to orchestrate a military coup in Venezuela

Telesur

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that Latin America “is no longer the United States’ backyard” while denouncing the United States’ attempt to convince its South American allies to help it orchestrate a military intervention or coup in Venezuela.
In an interview with news agency EFE, Morales explained that several Latin American leaders have confided in him that U.S. Vice president Mike Pence is “trying to convince some United States-friendly countries” help them seize control of the South American country and replace the current government led by Nicolas Maduro.

Full Story

Telesur

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that Latin America “is no longer the United States’ backyard” while denouncing the United States’ attempt to convince its South American allies to help it orchestrate a military intervention or coup in Venezuela.
In an interview with news agency EFE, Morales explained that several Latin American leaders have confided in him that U.S. Vice president Mike Pence is “trying to convince some United States-friendly countries” help them seize control of the South American country and replace the current government led by Nicolas Maduro.

The real target, Morales explained, is not the Venezuelan president but “Venezuelan oil, and Venezuelans know that.”
Drawing parallels to 2011 military intervention in Libya, Morales said the U.S. isn’t interested in helping with alleged humanitarian crisis since, despite the current political and social turmoil in Libya, the U.S. will not intervene there since “the country’s oil is now owned by the U.S. and some European oil companies,” Morales asserted.  
“One military intervention (in the region) would only create another armed conflict,” he added pointing to Colombia’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a general sign of an escalation of “military aggression to all Latin America and the Caribbean” region.
Morales explained, however, that U.S. interventionism is not only militaristic.
“When there are no military coups, they seek judicial or congressional coups” as in the case of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and the Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s imprisonment, which is barring him from running in the upcoming 2018 elections.
“I am certain we will free Lula. If he returns, some countries in Latin America will again strengthen the ideological, programmatic and liberation struggle against the North American empire,” Morales said.


Login to post comments


(0)



METROPOLITAN
EDITORIAL
COMMENTS
INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS
INFOTECH
CULTURE
MISCELLANY
AVIATOUR
LETTERS
LAST WORD
FOUNDING EDITOR: ENAYETULLAH KHAN; EDITOR: SAYED KAMALUDDIN
Contents Copyrighted © by Holiday Publication Limited
Mailing address 30, Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh.
Phone 880-2-8170462, 8170463, 8170464 Fax 880-2-9127927 Email holiday@bangla.net
Site Managed By: Southtech Limited
Southtech Limited does not take any responsibility for any news content of this site