BD Minister’s new bid to misappropriate public fund
Added: (Tue Apr 18 2006)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
There is very strange and ridiculous information recently released by one of the most corrupt cabinet ministers in Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s commerce minister, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury is known as one of the most inactive figure in the cabinet, who has virtually turned the Commerce Ministry into his private company to cash fabulous amount of money through massive corruption.
Just today, this extremely corrupt man said, his government was planning to appoint international lobbyist firm in Geneva to ensure 100 per cent duty and quota free market access in the global market, particularly to the US and Japan.
‘We are trying to appoint a lobbyist firm in Geneva to negotiate with different countries like the US and Japan ensures full market access,’ Altaf told newsmen at a hasty press briefing.
‘Appointing such firms is very important to uphold the country’s interest.’ He told almost every country including India and Pakistan have their lobbyist firms in the US and Geneva to pursue their agenda, when asked about the necessity of such firms despite having diplomatic missions at those places costing a lot of money.
It is noteworthy to mention that Bangladesh government earlier appointed US lobbyist Washington Group to persuade a number of issues, one of which was to arrange US President George Bush’s visit to Bangladesh during his South Asia tour. It was indeed a fact that Bangladesh government paid huge amount of service charge to the US firms, but President Bush did not visit Bangladesh. Naturally it showed evidently the extreme failure of the lobbyist firm. Now, corrupt Commerce Minister Altaf is looking for another lobbyist in Geneva, which is a fresher bid of this most controversial figure in Bangladesh cabinet to swindle public fund. It has been a misfortune for Bangladesh to have number of bad, rogue and corrupt ministers and rulers in the country in past 36 years.
Meanwhile, there is another news related to lobbyist. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will discontinue lobbying for —much expected duty free access of Bangladeshi readymade garment to the United States— amid huge pressure from thousands of its members who do not export to the American market, sources said.
“It is very difficult to bear the high expense for the task and we are considering to discontinue lobbying,” former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Annisul Huq told reporters.
“The possibility of tabling the trade bill in the US Congress this year is very little as the election in America is scheduled to be held this year,” he said adding, “Such a situation prompted us to rethink on it.”
With a view to attain duty free access to the US market, importer of around 40 per cent RMG of Bangladesh, the BGMEA engaged Pattern Box, a lobbyist firm for US$12,000 per month in August 2001. It also pays US$3,000 monthly to one Sabbir Ahmed, a Bangladeshi lawyer residing in the USA, for the same purpose.
Later the BGMEA appointed Sandler, Travis and Rosenberg, widely known as STR, another lobbyist firm based in Washington DC in mid 2004. According to SM Fazlul Hoque, panel president of the BGMEA, they are paying US$25,000 per month to STR for trying to convince US senators in favour of TDA bill.
Sources said a three-member delegation headed by BGMEA president Tipu Munshi with immediate past President Annisul Huq and president-elect SM Fazlul Hoque will visit the USA in the middle of May to review the agreement with the lobbyist firm.
Highly placed sources said the present committee of the BGMEA was under pressure of thousands of its members —who do not export garment to US market— following the outcome of just ended Hong Kong ministerial meeting which denied the possibility of duty free access of Bangladeshi RMG to US market.
The Hong Kong meet agreed duty free access of 97 per cent goods of least developed countries to the market of developed nation. The said 97 per cent do not comprise readymade garment.
The frustrated garment owners— following the Hong Kong meet— began to continuously put pressure on the BGMEA leaders to stop lobbying for duty free access as spending of huge amount of money failed to produce little hope to them.
“We have already spent a lot — our coffer is empty— nothing has been attained till today— there is no sign to attain duty free access— US trade representative in the Hong Kong meeting has made it clear that Bangladesh will not get duty free access— so why do we continue lobbying for it,” said one frustrated member of the BGMEA.
“Those who export to US are very much eager to continue it for their own interest. Most of the members shall not make any profit even if we get duty free access,” he added.
SM Fazlul Hoque told this correspondent that they are planning to discontinue lobbying, as there is little possibility of attaining duty free access following this year’s US congress election.
“We might again appoint the STR as our lobbyist if we see any positive sign in this regard,” he added.