Vol. 4 Num 333 Fri. May 07, 2004  
Front Page

Cabinet Reshuffle
Portfolios of eight ministers changed
Four ministries merged into two; top BNP leaders see the change meaningless

The government last night reallocated the portfolios of six ministers and two state ministers and merged four ministries into two in a cabinet reshuffle ahead of the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) meeting beginning tomorrow.

Sources said Prime Minister Khaleda Zia made the changes to infuse further dynamism into the administration, but some key leaders of her ruling BNP said the effort was virtually meaningless.

Khaleda did not downsize the cabinet despite pressure of the development community in the reshuffle that came apparently to satisfy the uplift partners before the BDF meet.

The ministries of jute and textiles merged into the Ministry of Textiles and Jute and the Food and Disaster Management and Relief ministries merged to form the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management.

Sources at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said the mergers were part of a plan to downsize the government.

In the reshuffle, Abdul Matin Chowdhury, elderly leader of the BNP, was made minister without portfolio from the Ministry of Textiles.

Information Minister Tariqul Islam was given the portfolio of environment and forest, while M Shamsul Islam was transferred to the information ministry from the land ministry.

Shamsul was at the helm of information ministry under the previous BNP government.

Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf, who was holding the portfolio of disaster management and relief, was given the responsibility of the food and disaster management ministry.

Abdullah Al Noman, who held the food portfolio, was made minister for fisheries and livestock. He held the same portfolio in Khaleda's previous government.

Shajahan Siraj was transferred to the textiles and jute ministry from the environment and forest ministry.

State minister in-charge of the jute ministry M Lutfor Rahman Khan was given the portfolio of NGO affairs ministry, which was long under the PMO.

The state minister in-charge of the fisheries and livestock ministry, Ukil Abdus Sattar, was given same status at the land ministry.

BNP policymakers talking to the press in the wake of the reshuffle praised the downsizing of the ministries, but expressed dissatisfaction over non-downsizing of the cabinet.

Some top-rung BNP leaders said the reshuffle might not bring any positive result as the government did not largely drop ministers with allegations of corruption.

They said 'removal of the corrupt' should take precedence over other changes.

Most of the ministers and state ministers, whose portfolios were changed, were better performing than most of their colleagues, they said.

On March 25, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury was removed from the commerce ministry and Reaz Rahman was made adviser to the foreign ministry after removal from the office of state minister of the same ministry.

In her second cabinet reshuffle on May 22 last year, Khaleda dropped seven ministers and changed the portfolios of 11 others, reducing her 60-member 'jumbo cabinet' to 53.

The first shuffle took place on March 11, 2002 that saw changes in portfolios of four ministers.