More than half involved in business
About two-thirds of the mayor and councillor candidates in Sylhet, Rajshahi and Barisal cities did not have taxable income in fiscal 2017-18, according to their tax return certificates submitted to the Election Commission.
Of the 548 mayor and councillor aspirants, 287 are involved in business. A total of 245 candidates could not pass SCC exams while 133 completed graduation, says their affidavits filed with the EC.
Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), a civil society platform, disclosed the information at a press conference at Jatiya Press Club yesterday after analysing the candidates' tax return certificates and affidavits.
It found that three BNP mayoral nominees are accused in 12 cases each. On the other hand, none of the three Awami League candidates face any case.
Mayoral and councillor aspirants in Rajshahi were comparatively facing more cases than the candidates in two other cities.
Elections in the three city corporations will be held on Monday. Five candidates have been running in the mayoral polls in Rajshahi and seven each in Barisal and Sylhet.
According to tax return certificates, five out of the 19 mayor hopefuls did not have taxable income in the last fiscal year.
Among the six mayor candidates, who paid income taxes in 2017-18 FY, three paid less than Tk 5,000.
The current tax-free income ceiling for individuals is Tk 2.5 lakh.
Talking to The Daily Star, Shujan President M Hafizuddin Khan said the EC should thoroughly scrutinise the information provided by the candidates to determine that they are eligible to hold the crucial posts of public representatives.
“What's the benefit of asking for such information if they [the EC] don't scrutinise it?” he questioned.
Referring to candidates' data submitted to the EC, Shujan officials said only 154 out of 381 ward councillor aspirants and 26 out of 148 women ward councillor hopefuls for reserved seats paid income tax in the last fiscal year.
Reading out a statement at the press conference, Shujan Central Coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarkar said a few candidates submitted tax return certificates to the EC, but did not disclose the figures of their paid tax.
Shujan said it could not analyse the information of a woman ward councillor aspirant for a reserved seat in Sylhet as it was not available on the EC website.
Replying to a query, Hafizuddin said there were reasons to be frustrated with the three city corporation polls. Some recent incidents indicated that level-playing fields for all candidates were not ensured in the three cities, he added.
Local government expert Tofail Ahmed, also an executive member of Shujan, said a mayor candidate of a political party bagged about two lakh votes in a recent city corporation election, but he could not ensure the presence of his polling agents at 400 polling booths on the polling day.
Terming the incident unexplainable, he said, “I don't know whether this happened due to intimidation, indifference or aggression by a certain political party.”