PM’S FUND FOR RANA PLAZA VICTIMS

Tk 108cr remain unutilised: TIB

PMO rejects TIB report

Staff Correspondent

Transparency International, Bangladesh on Tuesday alleged that about Tk 108 crore of the prime minister’s relief and welfare fund for Rana Plaza victims was yet to be distributed among the affected workers.
TIB chair Sultana Kamal, launching a report at a press conference in the city, also alleged that although the government had taken many initiatives, those were yet to be implemented due to an underhand deal with the owners’ associations.
The transparency watchdog published the report on Rana Plaza titled ‘steps taken to establish good governance in readymade garment sector: review of last one year’s progress,’ prepared as a follow-up to a 2013 TIB report with focus on 80 ongoing initiatives taken by the government and stakeholders between April 2014 and April 2015.
TIB assistant programme manager Nazmul Huda Mina, while presenting the report, said that the prime minister’s fund collected from various sources including donations for Rana Plaza victims amounted to Tk 127 crore, but about Tk 108 crore remained unutilised.
The Prime Minister’s Office rejected the report, terming it unacceptable and inaccurate.
A statement issued by the prime minister’s press wing said that there was no existence of any fund or any cheque for Rana Plaza victims at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Rana Plaza at Savar bus stop collapsed on April 24, 2013, killing more than 1,100 people, mostly apparel workers, and injuring several hundred, while about 160 were still missing.
The report said that the fund was initially distributed among the Rana Plaza victims as relief, but now it was being considered as ‘compensations.’
It said that buyers and international organisations had also promised about $40 million for the victims, but they had so far given $19 million to the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund of which 70 per cent had been distributed.
The government was yet to publish the victims’ list, who got compensations, and information of operation expenditure of the trust fund while there were allegations of lengthy process and lack of transparency in distribution and fixing amounts of compensation, the report said.
About cases filed for the accident, Nazmul said that the Criminal Investigation Department was yet to submit investigation report of two cases, while the Anti-Corruption Commission submitted charge sheet in a case out of the three.
Sultana Kamal said that the perpetrators could not be held accountable due to a lengthy legal process.
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said that the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 had some limitations including insufficient punishment and compensation while there were also allegations of misuse of its different sections.
The report also said that since the tragic incident, 220 factories had been closed and 100 to 150 thousand workers had been unemployed due to cancellation of work orders by foreign buyers.
TIB recommended establishment of a separate ministry for monitoring and coordinating the apparel industries, formation of a public sector board to implement different steps, preparation of a labour database and creation of a fund for sub-contract and small factories.
The PMO statement said that after Rana Plaza collapse many came up with financial assistances and submitted their aid amount to the prime minister’s relief and welfare fund but there was no record of deposition of money to create separate fund for Rana Plaza victims.
From the fund, Fixed Deposit Receipt accounts of Tk 5 lakh to Tk 30 lakh have been opened against the families who have lost their sole bread-earners in different accidents, it said.

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