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Angry parliamentary watchdog suspends meeting for Amu’s consecutive absence

  • Published at 06:59 pm October 19th, 2014

The absence of Amir Hossain Amu in three consecutive meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industries Ministry, in violation of rule, angered the watchdog members who yesterday had to suspend the meeting.

The 10-member body in the last three meetings castigated the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation for alleged corruption in the wing under the Industries Ministry.

A high-level bureaucrat of the ministry at the second meeting on July 7 faced verbal attack from committee Chairman Omor Faruk Chowdhury, a former state minister for industries, because of making “outrageous and objectionable” comments on former industries minister Dilip Barua.

The watchdog’s tough stance on corruption at the BCCI reportedly angered the ministry officials. At the fourth meeting yesterday, only three members turned up. Fatema Tuzzahura was the other MP who attended the meeting with Omor Faruk in the chair. Amu attended the first meeting on May 25.

“The standing committee’s main function is to ensure transparency and accountability of the ministry. What is the meaning of holding meeting if the minister, also a committee member and chief executive, remains absent in three meetings?” Dr Abdur Razzaq, a former minister and committee member, told the Dhaka Tribune after the meeting at the parliament building.

He said the chairman also agreed with Razzaq, who pointed at the minister’s absence, and suspended the meeting. Razzaq said the committee decided that the minister must be present at the next meeting.

According to the Rules of Procedure of parliament, all members of the parliamentary standing committees must not skip more than two consecutive meetings. The speaker may strip the member, avoiding three consecutive meetings without notice to the chairman, of his membership.

“I had a meeting with the Russian ambassador. And they [the standing committee chairman] contacted me for meetings. I also did not contact them for meetings,” Amu told the Dhaka Tribune. The rules of procedure also stipulates that the chairman of the watchdog is the lone authority to convene a meeting.

In most of cases, the standing committee chairmen call meetings with the verbal consent of the ministers to make the meetings meaningful. But unfriendly relations between the chairmen and the ministers very often result in the absence of the ministers.

For instance, the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance Ministry in ninth parliament and Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith had bitter relations. Muhith attended a handful of the meetings.

The speaker, however, did not take any measure in this regard.