Opposition lawmakers on Monday slammed health minister Zahid Maleque and his ministry for rampant corruption and serious mismanagement in the health department in handling the COVID-19 crisis.
Participating in the discussion on the Finance Bill 2020 at the Jatiya Sangsad, they said that the ministry and the health department should be reorganised.
Jatiya Party lawmaker M Mujibul Haque said that the health minister ‘was staying in an iron vault’ and he even did not visit any hospital.
He said that the health department spent Tk 10.50 crore to develop four websites and spent another Tk 10.50 crore to develop five databases while it purchased five computers for Tk 55 lakh.
He went on to mention that the wife of a peon of the health department managed to accumulate Tk 1,500 crore.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker M Harunur Rashid urged the prime minister to take necessary steps to reform the ministry and the health department as they failed to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
JP lawmaker Kazi Firoz Rashid also berated the health minister for his role during the coronavirus crisis.
Besides, responding to a question from treasury bench lawmaker Mahfuzur Rahman, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid told parliament that a 6-step programme was being taken to collect the pending electricity bills and rectify any irregularities thereof.
He said that the government had announced a nation-wide general holiday from March 26 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infections and an area-specific lockdowns were implemented.
Considering the situation, the government allowed paying the electricity bills for the months of March, April and May by June 30 without any surcharge.
As a result, most of the customers refrained from paying their bills, creating a huge backlog.
Nasrul said that the measures taken to collect the outstanding electricity bills did not include putting together the units consumed during the unpaid months and charging for a large number of units as a single bill.
He went on to say that they would make separate electricity bills for separate months, would not charge more tariff by billing for more units as a single bill, and would rectify incorrect or excessive bills immediately.
They were also preparing the electricity bills for May (which were being made in June) properly by taking meter readings and would create the opportunity for paying the bills from home through mobile phone, bKash, G-PAY, RobiCash and other online services, Nasrul added.
Information minister Hasan Mahmud, replying to a question from lawmaker Shahiduzzaman Sarker, told parliament that the government would provide 1,500 journalists with a grant of Tk10,000 each during this coronavirus pandemic.
The minister said that all preparations in this regard were already taken to disburse the money through the Journalists Welfare Trust.
The minister said that the country’s journalists were risking their lives to collect and disseminate information during this pandemic.
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