Tk 163cr wasted due to quorum crisis
Transparency International Bangladesh on Wednesday said that the 10th general election held on January 5, 2014, was neither participatory nor contested as the main opposition party boycotted it.
As a result, ruling Awami League formed the government with overwhelming majority and it became the centre of power in Parliament, TIB said in a study report, ‘Parliament Watch’ released at a news conference in the capital.
The report also said that the so called parliamentary opposition, Jatiya Party, came under criticism from the very beginning as its leaders were in the cabinet and it echoed the statements of AL leaders.
As the opposition Jatiya Party could not play its due role in Parliament, TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said at the press conference.
Echoing the treasury bench, JP used un-parliamentary expressions against the other political parties and alliances, the TIB said.
Though, occasionally JP criticised the government on the issues of corruptions and irregularities and deteriorating law and order, it failed to establish its identity as an opposition party, the findings said.
The government took no initiative to implement its election pledges in the 10th Parliament, TIB said.
The 10th Parliament began its journey in January 2014 and completed its tenure in October 2018, with almost all opposition parties including the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotting it.
The opposition parties boycotted the January 5, 2014 polls on the demand of elections under non-party caretaker government.
The findings said that amid opposition demand polls under non-party caretaker government the 10th general election was held before the 9th Parliament’s five-year tenure ended.
In the 10th general election 153 AL MPs were elected unopposed and in January 2014, AL formed the government with 82 per cent majority, the findings added.
The TIB study revealed that that around Tk 163.57 crore was wasted by the 10th Parliament due to chronic quorum crisis.
The TIB study said that 23 sessions of the 10th Parliament spanning over 194.30 hours just could not be held due to quorum crisis.
In the report TIB said that only 12 per cent of total working hours of the 10th Parliament was utilized for legislation to pass 193 bills.
In sharp contrast, said TIB the UK’s House of Commons utilized 48 per cent of its time in passing bills in the year 2017-2018 while India’s 16th Lok Sabha utilized around 32 per cent of it time on legislation.
It said that the Bangladesh Parliament took around 31 minutes to pass a bill on an average while in India’s 16th Lok Sabha took 141minutes to pass a bill.
The findings said that the 8th Parliament of Bangladesh (2001-2006) utilized nine per cent of the working hours on legislation or passing bills while the 9th Parliament (2009-2013) utilized eight per cent of its time on legislation.
The TIB said the number of businessmen-turned MPs was increasing.
In the 10th Parliament, 59 per cent of the MPs were businessmen compared to 18 per cent in the first Parliament.
On the other hand, the number of lawyers turned MPs is decreasing.
It was 13 per cent in the 10th Parliament sharply falling from 31per cent in the first Parliament.
The 10th Parliament witnessed no boycott of sitting or sessions by the opposition though the JP as the opposition and the other MPs in the opposition staged walkouts for 13 times.
The TIB chief, however, mentioned that the opposition came out from the boycott culture in the 10th Parliament for what he called , ‘a high cost.’
A total of 48 parliamentary standing committees held 1,566 meetings while the standing committee on public accounts held 108 meetings, the highest for any committee, and only two committees held two meetings every month which was must for a committee under the Rules of Procedures.
Only 45 per cent of the recommendations of the committees was implemented by the govewrnment.
In 75 per cent of parliamentary sessions, 53 per cent of the female MPs and 26 per cent of the male MPs attended, the findings said.
The presence of leader of the house and prime minister Sheikh Hasina was 82 per cent while that of the leader of the opposition Raushon Ershad was 59 per cent.
The findings revealed that the Speaker did not play her due role in the house when a section of the MPs used unparliamentarily words to criticize the civil society and the main opposition, though it was not there.
The TIB in its report put forward 11 recommendations including to amend Article 70 of the Constitution and The Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Allowances) Order, 1973 to make Parliament more effective.
Article 70 stipulates that MPs would lose their seats if they vote against the party whip.
TIB said that the Speaker should censure the use of unparliamentarily language and expunge them to stop the un-parliamentary practice.
The TIB also recommended the formation of at least five out 10 parliamentary standing committees with opposition MPs at their head.
It said that the committee on public accounts should always be led by an opposition MP.
Nihar Ranjan Roy and Morsheda Akter, two deputy program managers of TIB, presented the report at the press conference.
TIB trustee board chairperson Sultana Kamal, director Mohammad Rafiqul Hasan, executive management adviser Sumaya Khair, and program manager (research and policy) Juliet Rossetete were present.