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Oppressive pressure has been created on private sector

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11th-Mar-2014       
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FINANCE Minister AMA Muhith's bid to collect Tk 100 crore from private businesses for funding the ICC T20 World Cup and the recording of the national anthem by  over three lakh people at a time on March 26 has flanked widespread criticism. The question arises if the minister is engaged in raising funds by using government power as oppressive pressure on private sector businesses when this sector itself is in serious trouble. The finance minister however said the money is urgently needed to support national level activities including hosting a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) concert at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the city ahead of the T-20 tournament scheduled to begin on March 16. But public reaction has not been helpful for the Finance Minister.
The finance minister's move received head lines in almost all dailies on Monday wondering whether or not it is an instance of 'extortion by the state.' News reports said the finance minister has already sent letters to banks asking them to donate Tk 1.0 crore each which also included foreign banks. Corporate business houses have also been asked to make contributions. Some business leaders held the view that they always make donations to such events but never before the finance minister was directly involved with the collection of such a huge figure. Muhith has attempted to justify his move saying toll collection of this type is a common practice and even he does a lot of toll collection for the government. But his utterances this time received mixed public reactions. Minister for shipping Shajahan Khan in a public statement on Saturday and Sunday similarly attempted to justify extra-judicial killings saying it is acceptable in some cases to keep the society free from terrorism. Both the ministers have their reasons but the question is whether or not their 'justifications' are equally acceptable under the rule of law. They can't break the law while they run the government and ask people to adhere to the rule of law.
Many people tend to believe that the funding initiative should have been left at the private charity level by business houses without inviting the finance minister to get engaged in money transactions where transparency and accountability factors may remain highly risky issues.
Only in 2010 an Indian federal minister Suresh Kalmadi who was also the president of the organizing committee of the Olympic Games held in India that year lost his job and also went to jail for misappropriation of funds by contractors. We fear these are the risks which respectable persons in the government may incur. Moreover when somebody will make a donation, either freely or under duress, he may also demand questionable favours from the government -- be it in publicly or covertly. It means such donations may open the corridor of corruption in our system of governance which is already overloaded by pervasive corruptions and irregularities at high places of government.


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