• Friday, November 21, 2014

Benefits taken but jobs not done

Khaleda's term as leader of opposition ends today

Shakhawat Liton

With the ninth parliament's tenure expiring today, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia loses her status as opposition leader, setting a new record of lowest attendance in House proceedings in the last two decades.
She attended only 10 of total 418 sittings in the ninth parliament that began its journey on January 25, 2009, according to the Parliament Secretariat.
Being the opposition leader, she was entitled to the same salary, allowances and other privileges worth around Tk 1.30 lakh given to a full minister per month. In addition, she enjoyed other facilities.
The leader of the opposition is considered the shadow prime minister, as he or she leads a shadow cabinet to observe and criticise government activities.
But Khaleda refrained from joining most proceedings of the ninth parliament, breaking her previous record of 28 attendances in total 382 sittings in the seventh parliament (1996-2001).
Her archrival, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, attended 135 of total 400 sittings as opposition leader in the fifth parliament (1991-1995) and 45 of the 373 sittings in the eighth parliament (2001-2006).
Khaleda was elected either the PM or opposition leader since parliamentary democracy was restored in the country in 1991. But this time, she will enjoy neither of the status, as her party didn't contest the 10th parliamentary election held on January 5.
The Speaker on January 11 recognised Raushan Ershad, presidium member of the Jatiya Party, as opposition leader of the new parliament. And the president on January 13 convened the 10th parliament on January 29.
OPPOSITION LEADER'S BENEFITS
The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Remuneration and Privileges) Ordinance, 1979 doesn't give any details about the salary and other benefits of opposition leader. It only says he/she is entitled to the same salary, allowances and other privileges received by a full minister.
According to the Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Remuneration and Privileges) Act 1973, the opposition leader is entitled to get a monthly allowance of Tk 53,100 and an official residence furnished at a cost of Tk 5 lakh.
He/she also gets allowances on taking up and laying down office, travelling expenses for himself/herself and the family, costs of transporting household items of 4,500 kg by freight train, steamer or vehicles, and costs of transporting two personal servants.
The opposition leader receives sumptuary allowance of Tk 6,000 a month, an official car, a jeep for essential official purposes, house rent of Tk 45,000 a month if official residence is unavailable, and costs for supply of electricity, gas, water, telephone and the like at the residence.
He/she is treated as a very important person while travelling on official duty, and receives travel allowances for journeys abroad, medical facilities and discretionary grant of Tk 4 lakh a year.
The opposition leader maintains an office at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban and is entitled to have a private secretary, an assistant private secretary, two personal assistants, three office assistants and three peons.
Khaleda enjoyed all above facilities and benefits as leader of the opposition.
PERFORMANCE OF HER MPS
Under Khaleda's leadership, opposition lawmakers belonging to the BNP and it two allies -- Jamaat-e-Islami and Bangladesh Jatiya Party -- joined only 76 sittings in the ninth parliament, setting a new record of lowest attendance by opposition MPs.
In the eighth parliament, the AL-led opposition lawmakers skipped 223 of the 373 sittings, while the BNP-led opposition MPs stayed away from 163 of the 382 sittings in the seventh parliament (1996-2001).
The AL-led opposition MPs boycotted 135 of the 400 sittings in the fifth parliament that was dissolved a few months before the expiry of its five-year term.
The opposition MPs, who boycotted most House proceedings of the ninth parliament, availed themselves of all facilities in the last five years.
A lawmaker gets more than Tk 1 lakh as remuneration and allowances every month.

 

Published: 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2014

Last modified: 2:39 pm Saturday, January 25, 2014

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