New insurance laws on the cards
In a bid to streamline regulations and monitor the country's insurance business more efficiently, the government has initiated steps to introduce fresh laws. The Ministry of Commerce is now examining three proposed laws -- Independent Insurance Regulatory Authority Act-2005, Insurance Act 2005 and 'Takaful' Act 2005-- drafted recently by a high-level government committee. The government is also mulling over launching a separate independent regulatory authority act in order to bring all the insurance companies, both government and private, under a single regulatory mechanism. Under the initiative, the commerce ministry is also working for introducing a 'policyholders' protection fund, setting up brokerage house for insurance companies and setting mandatory minimum solvency margin option. Sources said the ministry is seriously considering the policyholder protection fund as currently thousands of insurance policyholders cannot reap desired benefits from different insurance companies and their agents. -- The Daily Star, December 25.
Certificate cases against 26 officials of 6 firms in 2005
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed certificate cases against 26 officials of six listed companies in 2005 for their failure to pay penalty money in time. The capital market watchdog fined the officials Tk 1 lakh or more each for violating the SEC rules including non-submission of half yearly financial statements, failure to hold annual general meetings (AGMs) and non-submission of audited financial statements, market sources said. As per the SEC rules, the officials, against whom certificate cases were filed, have to pay fine within a certain period of time and if they fail, warrant of arrest and seizure of property will be ordered after the deadline. "It is not an objective of SEC to fine an official of a company or impose penalty on a company. The SEC fines or imposes penalty only to force the companies to follow the rules and regulations," said a high official of SEC. "The tendency of violating SEC rules has been reduced due to this penalty initiative of SEC," the official added. -- The Daily Star, December 26.
Charge sheet given in first sedition case against JMB
The police submitted the charge sheet in the first sedition case against seven JMB members to a Dhaka court, while the Rab arrested four others including three suspected suicide bombers with 10kg explosive material in Narayanganj. Sub-Inspector (SI) Iqbal Hossain, investigation officer (IO) of the sedition case filed with Dhamrai Police Station, submitted the charge sheet to a first class magistrate's court in the city, naming 25 people as prosecution witnesses, reports our court correspondent. They showed the six men arrested under the Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code and produced them before a first class magistrate's court in Dhaka on February 22 with a prayer for a seven-day remand to interrogate them. The court granted a two-day remand. Thirteen days into their arrest, the six operatives of the banned Islamist militant outfit were released on bail. They have been absconding since then, except Sentu, who was re-arrested in November. -- The Daily Star, December 28.
17 mobile courts join food drive
The ongoing drive against food adulteration was reinforced as 17 magistrates joined the drive in the capital and sealed off two vermicelli factories. The 17 mobile courts raided 89 places in the city and realised Tk 6,61,700 as fine from the owners of the shops and factories. They also sent 13 people to jail. A mobile court sentenced nine persons to jail, for seven to 15 days, for cheating in measurement in two fuel stations -- Meghna and Ramna -- in Ramna area. The courts lodged cases against them under Hygienic Food Act, BSTI Act, Environment Act, Motor Vehicle Ordinance and other acts, a home ministry press release said. A mobile court, led by magistrate Nazmul Ahsan Majumder, fined two vermicelli factories -- Swan Shemai and Golden Shemai -- for producing the food in unhygienic environment. The court found the employees making vermicelli with rotten flour and drying it in the sun. Besides, the manufactured item was kept in a dusty place. -- Prothom Alo, December 28.
Children replace adults in smuggling
Smuggling by children through border points in southwestern districts has increased as adults prefer to keep away now due to increased vigilance by BDR and BSF to check cross-border movement of Islamist militants following a crackdown on them in the country. Smugglers' syndicates have recruited children to smuggle goods from India, as border guards are not allowing Bangladeshi 'adults' to come closer to the border even during day time since the August 17 serial bomb blasts. Alongside increased vigilance, BSF has reinforced its strength in all border outposts, sources said. BSF is using searchlight at night to check cross-border illegal movement, they said. To continue smuggling, smugglers' syndicates are now using children in the illegal trade. There are at least 20 smugglers' syndicates active in Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga and Jhenidah border areas. At least 5000 children are now engaged in carrying smuggled goods in different border points in the districts, the sources said. --The Daily Star, December 28.
Illegal VoIP operators make fortune as govt stalls licensing
While powerful illegal internet telephony operators keep on draining out hundreds of crores taka each year, the government is delaying the process of awarding licence for VoIP operation on various pretexts ignoring a fresh recommendation of Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Authority (BTRC). The government now says the licence for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will be given after setting up a common platform in four areas of the country under Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) through which Internet phone calls will be channelised. The four areas are Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Bogra. Such a common platform, to be connected to the submarine cable, will not start operation before June next, even if the authorities try their best. The submarine cable project is yet to be completed. -- The Daily Star, December 27.
Cabinet ratifies Safta accord
The cabinet at a meeting ratified the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) agreement, which comes into effect from January 1, 2006. This ratification will pave the way for enforcement of the first-ever regional trade agreement that provides for free trade in goods among the Saarc countries -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in the chair viewed that Safta agreement, signed during the 12th Saarc Summit in Islamabad in January 2004, is a historic milestone in the economic profile of the seven-nation bloc. All members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) are to ratify the Safta agreement by the end of this year, so that the accord comes into effect in due time and its enforcement is not hampered. Official sources said the ratification of the agreement will be sent to the Saarc Secretariat, which will take further measures to complete its technical matters by next July. -- The Daily Star, December 27.
3,422 acres of govt land recovered from grabbers
The government has recovered about 3,422 acres of encroached land worth about Tk 1,600 crore in the last 11 months, said a report submitted to a secretary-level national committee. As many as 66,000 acres of land has been encroached by land grabbers across the country. The government, however, does not have statistics how many cases have been filed against the encroachers and the status of the cases, meeting sources said. The National Committee for Recovery of Illegally Occupied Land, Investigation and Monitoring yesterday at its ninth meeting at the Secretariat decided to make an estimate of the encroached land. -- The Daily Star, December 27.
with the Law Desk
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