226 MPs own more than Tk 1 crore each: Sujan

Politics falls in hands of the rich, say analysts

Staff Correspondent

Two hundred and twenty-six lawmakers, accounting for 64.57 per cent of the total 350 members in the 10th parliament, own wealth of more than Tk 1 crore individually while the yearly income of each of the 55 members is more than Tk 1 crore, according to a civic group report.
The Citizens for Good Governance, better known as Sujan from its Bangla name Sushashaner Janya Nagarik, on Sunday made the public the report it had prepared based on the affidavits that the lawmakers had submitted to the Election Commission before the January 5 parliamentary elections.
However, out of the 300 members in general seats, 214 own wealth of more than Tk 1 crore and of the 234 AL lawmakers, the number of lawmakers owning wealth of more than Tk 1 crore is 184.
The report made public at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity also showed that 50 per cent of the lawmakers of the current parliament were businessmen and 14.57 per cent were lawyers while 6 per cent mentioned farming as their profession in the affidavits.
The percentage of businessmen out of the 300 lawmakers in general parliamentary seats is, however, 54.33.
Thirty-one of the lawmakers are accused in cases while 143 lawmakers had cases against them in the past, the report said. Eight lawmakers are accused in murder cases and 41 had murder cases against them in the past.
Twenty of ruling Awami League lawmakers are now accused in different cases and six of them are accused in murder cases.
According to the affidavits, 94 of the lawmakers individually own wealth of more than Tk 5crore.
Of the AL lawmakers, 194 , accounting for 71.06 per cent of the total 273 AL lawmakers, have wealth of more than Tk 1 crore individually.
The study also showed that only 49 lawmakers were loan recipients and 32 of them are Awami League lawmakers. Three hundred and one lawmakers have no loans.
According to the report, 42 out of the 300 lawmakers in general seats do not pay income taxes. Among them, the Awami League has 28 lawmakers, the Jatiya Party 6, the Workers Party of Bangladesh 1, Inu-led Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal 1 and Manju-led Jatiya Party 1.
Of 300 lawmakers, 31 lawmakers pay more thank Tk 10 lakh in income taxes.
Some lawmakers did not provide information on income taxes in their affidavits.
Among the 55 lawmakers who earn more than Tk 1 crore a year, the Awami League has 44 lawmakers, Ershad’s Jatiya Party has 4 and Bangladesh Tariqat Federation 1.
After the report had been made public, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, who attended the press conference, doubted whether the lawmakers had submitted correct information in the affidavits.
‘Forty-two lawmakers do not pay income taxes. It is unbelievable. The National Board of Revenue should look into the matter,’ he added.
He said that the number of loan recipients among the lawmakers was very few whereas most of them are businessmen.
Terming the national elections that were held on January 5 ‘perverse,’ Sujan’s secretary Badiul Alam Majumder demanded immediate participatory elections after the reconstitution of the Election Commission.
Sujan in its statement said that it did not think that the election-centric political crisis had ended. ‘So we want a permanent solution to the political crisis.’
Sujan also proposed that a national charter should be framed describing what should be the country’s electoral system and the type of election-time government based on a national consensus.
Referring to a Supreme Court verdict that perverse election destroys democracy, Badiul said, ‘The January 5 elections were perverse.’
Approached for comments, Tofail Ahmed, a former public administration professor in Chittagong University, told New Age that the entire election process had fallen in the hands of the rich. ‘This is why, politics is heavily dominated by businessmen and the rich.’
He said that even there were several lawmakers in the current parliament who are doing businesses with the government in breach of the electoral law.
He doubted whether the pieces of information that the lawmakers had provided were true. ‘The real picture of the wealth of lawmakers is not reflected in the affidavits. They might have concealed information.’
‘I think that the lawmakers own more wealth than what they showed in the affidavits.’
Former caretaker government adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman said that people of other professions were failing to do politics because of the supremacy of businessmen.
Terming the trend ‘worrisome,’ former election commissioner M Sakhawat Hussain said that the space for true politicians was shrinking day by day with ‘trade in nomination.’
‘We took some measures to stop trade in nomination by enacting a law that people should have membership of a party for at least three years to get the nomination. But the law has been annulled to pave the way for the trade in nomination.’ he added.
Former caretaker government adviser Akbar Ali Khan, however, said that the 10th parliament did not represent people. ‘The majority of lawmakers in this parliament are not elected by people. So, we should not draw a conclusion about politics based on this parliament.’

Source: New Age