TIB says many income statements submitted by candidates of DNCC polls do not appear to match reality
Candidates contesting elections require submitting key information in their affidavits to the Election Commission. But in many cases the electorates cast doubts on the authenticity of such information. They often think that the candidates are hiding things in their affidavits. The upcoming Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) polls appear to be no different.
A total of five candidates are contesting in the DNCC polls, and all of them have submitted wealth statements to the Election Commission. However, some of the information submitted raises questions over the authenticity of the affidavits.
Electoral experts and good governance campaigners want the Election Commission to take necessary measures to investigate the documents, believing they contain misleading data to conceal black money. Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has said they would discuss whether to launch inquiries into the affidavits in their next meeting.
Businesses without income
Ruling party candidate for the DNCC polls and former president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam in his wealth statement says he does not own a personal car, despite being the owner of 16 companies.
His affidavit submitted to the Election Commission also says he has just Tk87,063 in cash under his name.
The affidavit of National Democratic Party candidate Bobby Hajjaj, son of well-known business tycoon Musa Bin Shamser, says he does not have a registered house of his own.
According to the documents, Bobby Hajjaj has a monthly income of Tk27,270 as a full time lecturer and researcher in strategy science at North South University (NSU). He cites additional income of Tk12,412 from external sources, despite being a director with 500 shares in his billionaire father’s DATCO Group.
Meanwhile, the affidavit of candidate Shahin Khan says he owns two businesses, but they do not generate any income.
What do good governance campaigners think?
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said citizens have the right to know details about candidates before voting.
“Most of the information on income submitted by the candidates does not appear to match reality,” he added, urging the Election Commission and ACC to investigate inconsistencies.
The TIB executive director further said while it was the duty of the Election Commission to investigate the matter, the ACC could also take action based on their inquiries.
Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar claimed most candidates resort to false information in affidavits to conceal black money.
“Although it is the duty of the Election Commission to investigate inconsistencies in affidavits, we have never seen them take measures against influential candidates for providing false information. We are unsure whether the EC will take action,” he added.
The Shujan secretary further said the Election Commission could cancel the election and reschedule the polls if it finds that false information was submitted.
When contacted by phone, ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood said they would discuss whether to launch inquiries into the election affidavits at their next meeting.
“If there is specific information, we may cross-check their tax files with the documents submitted to the Election Commission to see if they match,” he added.