As much as Tk163.575 crore was misused owing to lack of quorum in 23 sessions of the 10th parliament, said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
According to the Bangladesh chapter of the Germany-based corruption watchdog, this amount is the estimated cost of 194.30 hours which were lost for quorum crisis in those 23 sessions of the last parliament.
The TIB has made these revelations in its latest Parliament Watch report made public through a press conference at Midus Center in the capital’s Dhanmondi area on Wednesday.
The cost has been estimated in consideration of salaries and wages of employees at the parliament, maintenance cost of the assets, utility bills and telecast cost of Sangsad TV.
“This is an estimation, not the exact amount,” TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, adding, “but the real cost will be much higher than the estimation.”
According to the report, the 10th parliament was in operation for 1,410 hours. Of this, 70.5 hours were spent on unscheduled discussions and16 percent of the unscheduled discussions were spent due to unparliamentarily behaviours by parliamentarians.
Only 12 percent time of the 23 sessions of the 2014-2018 parliament was spent for passing bills which is the core function of the parliamentarian.
Mentionable, the House of Lords of the British Parliament spent 48 percent of its time on making law during the 2017-18 period. In India, the percentage of parliament time spent for passing laws is 32.
A total of 193 bills were passed in the 10th parliament. On an average 31 minutes were taken for passing a bill in that parliament, while in India’s Lok Sabha -- the lower house of the Indian parliament -- the average time spent for passing a bill in its immediate past tenure was 141 minutes.
Walk-out culture stopped
One of the positive developments that the last parliament witnessed was that the bad culture of walking out of the parliament by the opposition bench had been stopped, the TIB report said. It however added that the way this happened was not healthy.
According to the TIB report, the Jatiya Party failed at act as a strong opposition in the parliament. The party had somewhat suffered from an identity crisis, the report observed.
The TIB has attributed the stopping of ‘walk-out’ culture to the absence of a strong opposition in the parliament.
“The situation is like that you cut off your head due to a bad headache,” explained Iftekharuzzaman.
Implementation rate of standing committee recommendations not satisfactory
Even though the implementation rate of the parliamentary standing committees’ recommendations in the 10th parliament witnessed a two percent increase when compared to the previous parliament, the overall rate is not satisfactory, observed the TIB.
According to the TIB report, 58 percent of the recommendations put forward by the parliamentary standing committees in the 8th parliament (2001-2005) were implemented. In the 9th parliament, the rate decreased to 43 percent and in the 10th parliament it was 45 percent.
The TIB does not see the trend as a good practice.
“In a parliamentary system, parliamentary committees play a very important role, but the decreasing rate of implementation of the standing committee recommendations in Bangladesh is disappointing.”
The TIB also made it known that there were conflicts of interests with at least 8 standing committees which include committees on some crucial ministries like finance, commerce and industries.
The TIB has placed an 11-point charter of recommendations to make the parliament more functional.
It has suggested amending the section 70 of the Constitution so that the parliament members can express their views freely.
They also recommended formulating a law defining parliamentary behaviours so that the parliament members can practice internationally accepted behavioural pattern.