Appeals of rivals wear EC out
The Election Commission (EC) is facing tremendous difficulties in resolving a plethora of problems regarding finalising parliamentary candidacies within the deadline, as rival candidacy seekers lodged complaints with it against acceptance of 81 party nominations.
With the commission yet to complete hearing the appeals against rejections of applications for candidacy, it now has to hear for the first time the complaints filed against the acceptance of nominations. Sources in the EC said candidacies of the 81, most of whom are nominees of the two major electoral alliances led by Awami League (AL) and BNP, have become uncertain due to the challenges from their rivals as well as their own party colleagues. “The commission has decided to hear the complaints against the candidacies on December 10,” EC Secretary Humayun Kabir told The Daily Star.
Another EC official said the commission is facing tremendous hurdles in maintaining all protocols regarding awarding of candidacies. “We must resolve all problems by December 10 as the following day is the last date for withdrawing applications for candidacy,” he added. -The Daily Star, December 8, 2008.
35pc aspirants pay no tax or lack TIN
A total of 865, or 35.22 percent, of the people who filed nomination papers for the upcoming parliamentary polls neither pay income tax nor have any Tax Identification Number (TIN). The total number of people who filed nomination papers for this year's general election number 2,456.
A high official of National Board of Revenue (NBR) said, “It is unbelievable that those who spend lakhs of taka for election do not have the minimum taxable annual income of Tk 1.65 lakh.” Ahmed Ali, a member of the NBR, told The Daily Star, “We are examining these again. If anybody does not submit income tax return despite having taxable income, legal action will be taken against them.”
Of the 865 without TIN, 236 are in Dhaka, 187 in Chittagong, 122 in Khulna, 100 in Rangpur, 98 in Rajshahi, 63 in Barisal and 59 in Sylhet. The number of Awami League and BNP candidates among the 865 is small. Most of them belong to small political parties or are independent candidates. -The Daily Star, December 8, 2008.
Ghee of 10 BSTI-certified brands found adulterated
Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) in a recent test found that the samples of 10 ghee brands and a butter oil brand, all certified by the BSTI itself, are adulterated.
Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) leaders, who sent the samples to BSTI, disclosed it at a press conference at the CAB conference hall in the capital's Segun Bagicha. The CAB leaders said they sent the samples of ghee of 12 and butter oil of two brands to the BSTI laboratory on September 29 and received the test results on November 4, which said 10 samples of the 12 ghee brands and one of the two butter oil brands were adulterated.
The 10 ghee brands are New Baghabari Company, Mirza Mubashwer and Company, Baghabari Pure Gawa Ghee Co, MMH Multi Chemi Ltd, Square Consumer Products, Anil Ghosh's Baghabari Special, Jewel Food Products Ltd, SK Ghosh, Janani Special Gawa Ghee, and Bhai Bhai Food Products Ltd.
The BSTI test conducted under 10 parameters found the samples of ghee of state-owned Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Union Ltd and Brac Dairy and Food safe for consumption. The samples of 10 other brands were found imperfect in two to five parameters. -The Daily Star, December 7, 2008.
3 killed in 'crossfire'
Three suspected criminals were killed in 'crossfire' during separate incidents of shootout between their cohorts and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) in the capital and on its outskirts early December 7.
The deceased are Abdus Salam Sikder, 37, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Italy, Selim Miah, 36, owner of a grocery shop, and Rafiqul Islam Sardar, 32. Rab sources said all the three are criminals and members of notorious 'Nasir Group', which is accused of drug trading and other illegal activities in the city's Sabujbagh and adjacent areas.
Acting on a tip-off that a gang of criminals were holding a secret meeting, a team of Rab-10 conducted a raid at Kamalapur in Sabujbagh area at about 3:45am. Sensing the presence of the elite force, the criminals opened fire on them, forcing Rab personnel to fire back. -The Daily Star, December 7, 2008.
Political farmer pays no tax
Even though BNP leader Fazlur Rahman Patal owns a Lexus and a Nissan SUV, a Mazda car and a building in Dhaka worth Tk 1.54 crore, he claims to be a farmer earning Tk 2.15 lakh a year, thus not having to pay any income tax.
Fazlur, a former state minister for youth and sports, in his nomination papers for Natore-1 constituency claimed agriculture as the only source of his income. Fazlur does not have to pay any income tax, according to the wealth statement attached to his nomination papers. One has to earn at least Tk 2.65 lakh a year in this sector for income tax to become mandatory.
According to the tax-return certificate, the total amount of wealth of the BNP leader is Tk 1.98 crore and his monthly income and expenditure are Tk 17,876 and Tk 14,989. The certificate states that “he has no outstanding taxes”. He did not pay any income tax this fiscal year either.
In his nomination paper, the BNP leader mentioned Tk 12 lakh as probable expenditure for the upcoming polls. Fazlur has a corruption case filed against him which is under trial. -The Daily Star, December 6, 2008.
NBR eyes Eid cattle buyers
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has now set its sight on the country's cattle markets ahead of Eid-ul-Azha as part of its intensified drive against tax evaders.
The revenue board thinks that the well-off people go for high-priced sacrificial animals in their efforts to get social attention. “We want to avail of this chance to net more tax dodgers,” NBR Chairman Muhammad Abdul Mazid told the news agency over phone.
The NBR also apprehended that the candidates, who are contesting the December 29 elections, would go for expensive sacrificial animals for this Eid-ul-Azha as the Eid is going to be celebrated just over two weeks before the general election. The upazila elections are also round the corner.
A total of 2,460 people have submitted their nomination papers to contest the upcoming national election and of them the nominations of 1899 were found valid after scrutiny. “We're monitoring newspaper reports and analysing the information we've got from our field-level offices,” Mazid said.
The NBR has recently formed a high-powered team to identify the tax dodgers. The team will also collect information about the high-priced cattle buyers from markets across the country and will search the tax files to verify their sources of income. -The Daily Star, December 6, 2008.
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