It is all set for filling the top posts of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry for the 2017-19 term without any elections this year like the previous years despite demand for direct elections from the general members of the apex trade body.
Since 2002, elections of the president and the first vice-president of the FBCCI have gone under the control of the government due to a change in the rules.
FBCCI members said shattering all their hopes of getting reforms in the trade body and direct elections the government high ups have already finalised persons for the president and the first vice-president posts and the trade body members have no alternative but to accept the leadership chosen by the government.
They said the incumbent first vice-president of the FBCCI, Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, and its director Sheikh Fazle Fahim have already got green signals from the government for the president and the first vice president posts respectively.
‘We were very much hopeful about reforms and direct elections as the commerce minister formed a reform committee led by former FBCCI president Salman F Rahman. But at the last moment the formation of election board without any reform disappointed us,’ FBCCI director Md Helal Uddin told New Age on Saturday.
Helal, also the convener of the FBCCI reforms execution action committee, said, ‘The demand for reforms and direct elections has been buried under a large piece of stone. And there is no hope for reforms in near future.’
In 2002, the then commerce minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury changed rules that paved the way for the government’s intervention in the process.
Under the changed system, Abdul Awal Mintoo, Mir Nasir Hossain, Annisul Huq, AK Azad, Kazi Akram Uddin and Abdul Matlub Ahmad were elected unopposed presidents of the apex trade body with the blessings of BNP-led or Awami League-led governments and all of them made commitments to the FBCCI members to restore the direct voting system.
Former interim government finance adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam said that government should form an expert committee to find the necessities of reforms in the FBCCI.
As per recommendations of the expert committee, the government can take initiatives regarding reforms including direct elections, he said.
The president and the vice-presidents posts have become political and the government is taking advantage of controlling the trade body in their favour, one of the directors of the FBCCI said.
‘There was a good scope for bringing in reforms in the FBCCI this year but it was wasted due to the government intention to get president and vice-president of its own choice,’ he said.
He also said that it was almost final that Mohiuddin would be the president as the nominated director from the BGMEA and Sheikh Fazle Fahim, son of influential Awami League leader Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, would be the first vice-president as the representative of the Gopalganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The FBCCI election board on February 12 announced that the biennial elections of the trade body would be held on May 14.
According to the existing rules, the general body members of the trade body elect 32 directors and 20 directors are nominated by the government.
All the elected and nominated directors elect the president and the vice-presidents of the apex trade body.
As per the rules, the president and the first vice-president are elected in turns from the Chamber Group and the Association Group.
This year the president will be elected from the Association Group and the first vice-president from the Chamber Group.
The last elections of the FBCCI were held on May 23, 2015, where Abdul Matlub Ahmad was elected president from the Chamber Group.
Mohiuddin, former president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, is now the first vice-president of the FBCCI while Fazle Fahim is a director of the trade body.
According to FBCCI leaders, Mohiuddin and former first vice-president Md Jashim Uddin began their election campaign for the post of president of the apex trade body.
Jashim claimed that he tried for the president post several times and the government high ups assured him of choosing him for the post for the 2017-2019 term.
But, Mohiuddin has recently got green signal from the government for the president post, an FBCCI director said.
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