Several thousand employees of the municipalities from across the country yesterday staged a sit-in in front of Jatiya Press Club, demanding their salaries be paid from state funds, like other government employees’.
Due to fund crunch of the local government bodies, employees have not been paid their salaries for various periods -- ranging from several months up to five years, according to leaders of Bangladesh Association of Paurashava Services (BAPS).
By law, all 327 municipalities are bound to pay salaries of its employees from internal income. Except 40 or 50 of those, no municipality generates enough revenue to pay salaries of the employees.
As of June this year, the sum of unpaid salaries stands at Tk 692 crore, said leaders of the association.
Besides, some 964 retired employees have not received any pensions, amounting another Tk 120 crore, they said.
“We got no solution from discussions with the high-ups of the ministry [of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives]. Now we have come here to draw attention of honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Abdul Alim Mollah, president of BAPS told The Daily Star.
“All services in all municipalities will remain suspended and we will not move away from here [Jatiya Press Club] until our demand is met,” he added.
In March last year, the ministry formed a seven-member committee, headed by Mahbub Hossain, additional secretary (urban development wing) of the Local Government Division, which submitted a report recently.
The committee recommended the government to pay the due salaries, and to form another committee to resolve the pension issue.
“We have rejected the report, because it has said nothing about our main demand of salaries from state fund,” Abdul Alim Mollah said.
Earlier in the morning, they also held a rally in the auditorium of the Engineers Institution of Bangladesh in Dhaka as part of their pre-scheduled series of programmes.
Following the rally at noon, thousands of demonstrators brought out a procession and took position on the road in front of Jatiya Press Club, slowing down vehicular movement on the road.
“In 2009, I retired after 25 years in service. But I haven’t been paid my pension yet. I don’t have money to buy medicines,” said 77-year-old Abdul Hakim, who came from Bagerhat municipality.
Contacted, Additional Secretary Mahbub Hossain of Local Government Division declined to comment on the matter. Secretary of LGRD Ministry Helaluddin Ahmed could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.