There has been no progress regarding the publication of a gazette abolishing the quotas in government jobs, the cabinet secretary has said as the deadline set by demonstrators expired yesterday.
Officials received no directive about the quota system from the prime minister, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said yesterday.
"There is no progress on quotas. The issue remains at the same stage as it had been before," he told reporters during a briefing at the secretariat following a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office.
Yesterday was the deadline set by the quota reform demonstrators for publication of a gazette regarding the quotas.
On April 26, leaders of the quota reform movement threatened to launch fresh demonstrations in May for the gazette notification.
Awami League Joint General Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak met with the leaders the next day and assured them that the government would publish the gazette once the prime minister, who was in Australia at the time, returned.
Leaders of the quota reform movement then postponed their agitation till May 7.
Demonstrators said yesterday that they would announce their next course of action at a press conference at 11:00am in front of Dhaka University's Central Library today.
The cabinet secretary, at his press briefing, said his office was yet to get any direction from the public administration ministry for formation of a committee to abolish or reform the quota system.
“We formally requested the ministry to keep us updated. Once the public administration ministry issues the gazette on formation of the committee, we will have a meeting.”
Shafiul Alam gave short replies as reporters, one after another, asked questions regarding the issue.
Stating that there was no mention of the issue at the cabinet meeting, he said he hoped the gazette would be published “soon” without specifying when.
Under the banner of Bangladesh Shadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, students launched the movement on February 17 over their five-point demand, including reduction of the quota privilege to 10 percent from 56.
Students of public universities and then private universities across the country -- centrally led by Dhaka University -- took to the streets demanding reforms of the quota system in one of the most widespread protests in recent times.
The protesters blocked key points in the capital and also roads and highways elsewhere, crippling the transport system.
In the face of mass protests by students across the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced scrapping the quota system in parliament on April 11.
The quota system was introduced through an executive order in 1972 and was amended several times. Currently, only 44 percent are recruited on merit and the remaining 56 percent on privilege allocated under various quotas.
Of the 56 percent, 30 percent are kept for freedom fighters' children and grandchildren, 10 percent for women, 10 percent for people of districts lagging behind, 5 percent for people of indigenous communities, and the physically challenged have one percent.