Bangladesh govt drafts law to get idle funds of autonomous bodies

Mustafizur Rahman | Published: 00:00, Sep 03,2019 | Updated: 09:21, Sep 03,2019


The cabinet on Monday approved a draft law allowing the government to use the surplus funds of different self-governed agencies including autonomous, semi-autonomous, statutory authorities, public non-financial corporations for the ‘welfare of the public.’

The government took the move to bring the surplus funds into its exchequer to ensure their ‘better use’ as Tk2,12,100 crore remains idle with at least 68 such organisations, cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told a press briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat.

He said all such autonomous, semi-autonomous and statutory agencies would have to deposit their surplus funds into the government exchequer as per the proposed law.

The Finance Division placed the draft of the ‘Deposition of the Surplus Money of Self-Governed Agencies including Autonomous, Semi-Autonomous, Statutory Government Authorities and Public Non-Financial Corporations into the Government Exchequer Bill, 2019’ in the cabinet meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

‘A huge amount of funds remains idle with autonomous, semi-autonomous and statutory agencies. Many of them have kept the money as FDRs [fixed deposit receipts] with different banks,’ the cabinet secretary said.

The organisations would keep their maintenance expenditures and funds for emergency expenses and pension schemes, if any, for their employees and the remaining amounts would go to the government exchequer.

‘Of the idle money, the agencies will deposit the surplus amounts into the national exchequer after keeping aside their  operational costs, an additional 25 per cent of the operational cost as emergency fund, money for provident fund and pension,’ he explained referring to the provisions of the draft.

He said that these funds would be utilised for the welfare of the public and development activities of the country.

Asked whether the proposed law would contradict the spirit of the autonomous organisations including local government bodies and public universities, Shafiul replied in the negative. 

He said that this law would prevail over the other laws if any contradiction arises.

He explained that the organisations concerned could estimate its operational costs.

Asked to name some organisations having highest amounts of idle money, the top government functionary said the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation has Tk 21,580 crore idle money, while the Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation) Tk 18,204 crore, the Power Development Board

Tk 13,454 crore, the Chattogram Seaport Tk 9,913 crore and the Rajuk (Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha) has Tk 4,030 crore as idle.

Asked for comment, retired Comptroller and Auditor General and former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan observed that the proposed law would be conflicting with the basic concept of the autonomous organisations.

‘The government should first study the possible implications of taking the surplus funds of the autonomous and semi-autonomous organisations into the government exchequer,’ said Hafizuddin, also a civil society activist working for combating corruption and establishing good governance.  

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