According to a recent survey, even though the participation of businessmen has increased in the upcoming Khulna City Corporation and Gazipur City Corporation polls, most of them do not pay income taxes.
A survey by civil society platform Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) found that, in the two city corporations, the participation of businessmen in Gazipur has increased this year to 63.47% from 57.37% in 2013. Out of the total 345 candidates, 219 candidates are businessmen.
The number of tax evaders is 226 candidates out of the total 345. This means, 65.51% of the candidates in Gazipur city polls this year are evading income tax, according to the survey.
On the other hand, the participation of business people in Khulna city polls is 65.62%, which was previously 53.51%. The number of candidates who are businessmen is 126, out of a total 192 candidates.
The number of tax evaders in Khulna city polls is 81 candidates out of total 192. This indicates 42.19% of total candidate are evading income tax.
The information was disclosed at a press conference organized by Shujan at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Thursday morning.
From April 5 - May 15, Shujan is going to organize several programs at Gazipur and Khulna to inform the people about the upcoming election and candidates. Shujan is set to organize programs where the candidates will answer questions from the voters.
Educational qualification of candidates
The educational qualification of the candidates was also disclosed in the survey findings.
In Gazipur, out of the total 345 candidates, 210 of them have educational qualifications under secondary school. Only 24.05% of the candidates completed their graduation.
In Khulna, more than 50% of total candidates (116 people out of 192) did not complete their secondary education while only 24.47% candidates completed their graduation.
Advocate Shahdeen Malik, executive member of Shujan said: “If the candidates are properly educated, then the city corporation will be able to work towards the welfare of the citizens. But unfortunately, we are not seeing this in our candidates.”
Cases filed against candidates
Around 100 candidates are accused in different cases at present and seven candidates are accused in the 302 section cases in Gazipur.
In Khulna, 32 candidates are accused in different cases at present and five candidates are accused in 302 section cases.
Financial status of the candidates
The financial status of the candidates shows that, most of the candidates belong to the middle level income group. In Gazipur, the yearly income of 247 candidates out of 345 is under Tk5 lakh.
Mayoral candidate Md Jahangir Alam has the highest yearly income among the Gazipur candidates, which is around Tk21.6 million.
In Khulna, 125 candidates’ yearly income is under Tk5 lakh while 27 candidates did not mention their income.
Councilor candidate Azmal Ahmed has the highest yearly income among the Khulna candidates. He makes around Tk13.4 million per year.
Badiul Alam Majumder, secretary at Shujan, said they conducted the survey according to the affidavits of the candidates.
He further said: “The people of this area are worried about the neutrality and fairness of the upcoming election.
''To make a fair and free election, the Election Commission and the government should be more concerned and the involvement of parliament members in this election should be stopped.”
Shujan executive member Syed Abul Maksud said: “The educational qualification of the candidates is not the only factor here. The quality of humanitarianism and welfare related activities, patriotism and ethical side of the candidates is important for being a representative of the people.''