Absence of key ministers irks speaker, MPs
Speaker Abdul Hamid and a number of lawmakers yesterday expressed resentment over wholesale absence of ministers, especially the finance and planning ministers, during discussion on the proposed budget.
The speaker even commented that it was very unfortunate that eighty percent of the total members of the cabinet were absent during yesterday's budget discussion after the Maghrib prayers.
Earlier on Monday, a number of ruling Awami League lawmakers also raised the issue and expressed resentment saying it was useless for them to take part in the budget discussion when the minister concerned was absent.
Taking floor on a point of order, AL senior lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta yesterday raised the issue.
"In spite of many important tasks, the prime minister remains in parliament hours after hours. But what the ministers are doing keeping them absent from the important session?" Suranjit said.
"I am very serious about it and shocked as well," added Suranjit amid thumping of desks by other lawmakers.
"If they [ministers] think they will remain as ministers in the cabinet, please forgive us then," he went on saying.
Extending full support to Suranjit, Speaker Abdul Hamid said it was imperative that all ministers should be present in the House while it is in operation.
"Most of the time 40 to 60 percent ministers remain present in the House. But today [yesterday] I see that 80 percent of them are absent.
"I think it is very important for the ministers to be present in parliament, especially during the discussion on budget," Hamid added.
Defending the ministers' absence in the House proceedings, Chief Whip of the treasury bench Abdus Shahid and Whip ASM Firoz said the ministers concerned listened to the lawmakers' speech from their office in parliament.
However, both of them later said it is right that ministers should be present and listen to the lawmakers on budget discussion.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith who entered within 10 minutes of the discussion on the issue later said he always remains present in parliament and takes notes what the lawmakers say during the budget discussion.
"Sometimes I might be late to attend the proceedings but I myself along with officials of my ministry regularly listen to what the lawmakers speak on the proposed budget," Muhith said.
In reply, Abdul Hamid said presence of the ministers adds beauty to the House.
"Besides, lawmakers feel satisfied when they see ministers in the House during their discussion on budget," Hamid observed.