3 special assistants to CA appointed | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 11, 2008

3 special assistants to CA appointed

Portfolios reallocated among advisers; new ones see price hike, fair polls toughest jobs

Three special assistants to the chief adviser were appointed yesterday with the rank and status of state minister, aimed at expanding the cabinet of the caretaker government.
The special assistants are Brig Gen (retd) MA Malek, former PDB chairman, Prof M Tamim of Buet, and Barrister Debashis Roy.
Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, meantime, reallocated portfolios to his advisers yesterday, a day after five new advisers were sworn in into his council of advisers.
The newly appointed advisers see price hike of essentials and inflation as the toughest challenges for the caretaker government besides holding a free, fair and acceptable general election by the end of this year and handing over power to an elected government.
In their primary reaction while assuming office at Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday, none of them supported the demand for holding elections by June.
Talking to newsmen, the new advisers could not give any timetable for lifting the state of emergency saying it needs a collective decision.
“The present government's main challenge and objective would be handing over power to an elected government by holding a free and fair election so that they get a congenial atmosphere for work,” new Education Adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said.
Side by side, another major challenge is to keep moving the wheel of the economy, he added.
Zillur has set his priority on improving the quality of education through institutional reforms.
“Keeping in mind the declining standard of education in rural areas (compared to urban areas) I'll try my best to minimise the difference,” he said.
Asked to comment on the demand for lifting emergency and holding elections by June, he said, “The government is working to address the issues politicians have raised. I think we'll have to advance step by step in implementing our work plans.”
On the issue of detained Dhaka University teachers and students' release, he said he would talk with the persons concerned. “There is no lack of goodwill.”
Primary and Mass Communication Adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury said she is well aware of the challenges of holding elections timely in line with the government-announced roadmap. “The process is already on. Two lakh people have already been enrolled in voter list.”
Keeping in view the global and national realities, the caretaker government will try to address the price hike and inflation issues to reduce general people's sufferings, she said.
On withdrawal of the state of emergency to restore fundamental rights of the people, she said, “It will not be correct to say that all fundamental rights remain suspended now. There are some improvements in some areas. For example, extra-judicial killings have come to an end.”
She went on, “Collective decision is needed for withdrawal of emergency, when and how it will be withdrawn. Diverse issues are involved in it.”
Saying that the process is on for holding elections by the end of 2008 as pledged, Maj Gen (retd) Ghulam Quader said, “Economic challenges remain key issues to address. Prices of essentials have gone up, inflation too. We need to address these.”
He does not see any rationale in the demand for holding elections by June, he said.
“This is very illogical. Everyone had earlier accepted the roadmap for holding the elections by the end of 2008. What new development is there that the elections need to be held by June?”
On the demand for lifting emergency, he said, “Emergency will not be there even for an hour when it is not needed anymore.”
Health Adviser AMM Shawkat Ali also said the caretaker government's biggest challenge is holding a free and fair election and handover of power.
Law Adviser AF Hassan Ariff said his first and foremost task is to ensure holding of a free, fair and impartial election.
“It's my duty to provide legal infrastructure and assistance for holding free and fair polls,” he told reporters while going to his office after taking charge of the ministry.
Asked whether appointment of special assistants is in line with constitutional provisions, Shawkat said he is yet to see necessary papers. “I'm a lawyer and I can't tell you anything without going through papers.”
REALLOCATED PORTFOLIOS
Dr Mirza Azizul Islam--finance and planning ministry, Maj Gen (retd) MA Matin--shipping, land and Liberation War affairs ministries, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury--foreign affairs, and expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministries, M Anwarul Iqbal -- LGRD and cooperatives, textiles and jute ministries, AMM Shawkat Ali--health and family welfare, food and disaster management ministries, Maj Gen (retd) Ghulam Quader-- communications, and housing and public works ministries, Rasheda K Chowdhury--primary and mass education, and women and children affairs ministries, Hossain Zillur Rahman --education and commerce ministries, CS Karim-- agriculture and water resources ministries and AF Hassan Ariff--law and parliamentary affairs and religious affairs ministries.

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