The BNP that ruled the country for over 10 years in two terms since the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh in 1990 is struggling to come up with formal reactions to the proposed budget for fiscal 2016-17.
After the demise of former finance minister and BNP founding member M Saifur Rahman in 2009, experts from the party -- former World Bank official Osman Faruk, former science and ICT minister Moyeen Khan, former cabinet secretary MK Anwar and former commerce minister Amir Khashru Mahmud Chowdhury -- used to give reactions to national budgets on the party's behalf.
While the party was in opposition between 2009 and 2013, it placed “budget thoughts” through a press conference before the placing of budget proposal in parliament, in addition to giving post-budget reactions. In the last two years, they did not place “budget thoughts” but duly gave post-budget reactions.
This time, the BNP is yet to make responses formally though four days have gone by after the finance minister placed the budget proposal in parliament.
Most of the party leaders who used to give expert opinions on budgets have either become inactive in the political arena or fallen sick or are staying out of the country, party sources said.
Osman Faruk, an adviser to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, is not appearing in public and has remained inactive in the party activities since early last month when the investigation agency of the International Crimes Tribunal decided to launch a probe into the charges brought against him.
Another key man, BNP standing committee member MK Anwar who came out of jail in April has been suffering from different diseases, said Sairul Kabir Khan, a staff of BNP chairperson's media wing.
BNP standing committee member Moyeen Khan is now visiting the US on an invitation of the Democratic Party to observe the country's presidential election, Sairul added.
Amir Khashru is also in the US now, party sources said.
On instructions of the BNP chief, Dhaka University Prof Mahbub Ullah is preparing budget reactions on behalf of the party, BNP sources said.
The party may come up with its delayed reactions to the proposed budget after BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir returns to Dhaka today from Dinajpur, according to a party source.
Although there was no formal reaction from the BNP, its Senior Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed yesterday at a press briefing at the party's Nayapaltan central office described the proposed budget as “anti-people and pro-plunderers.”