Aussie MP seeks review of funding for Bangladesh

Aussie MP seeks review of funding for Bangladesh

An Australian lawmaker on Tuesday urged the country’s government to immediately review its funding arrangements with Bangladesh to ensure they were being used to support the people of Bangladesh and not filling the pockets of corrupt officials.

Abigail Boyd, member of the Legislative Council and Temporary Chair of Committees, came up with the demand in a notice submitted to the Parliament of New South Wales.

Boyd shared a video of her statement made in parliament on her verified Facebook page.

She brought the issue to the house, referring to recent United States sanctions on former Army chief Aziz Ahmed over his involvement in ‘significant corruption’.

In her notice, she said that this House notes that, on May 20, 2024, the US Department of State announced the public designation of former General Aziz Ahmed, previously chief of the Bangladesh Army Staff, for significant corruption, including interfering in public processes, assisting his brother to evade accountability for criminal activity, and accepting bribes in exchange for government appointments.

In addition, she asked the parliament to note that there were many reports of corrupt activity being carried out by Bangladeshi officials, with the chair of the Bangladeshi Anti-Corruption Commission stating in November 2020 that corruption and bribery are rampant in government services.

The Greens member also said that corruption in Bangladesh had undermined its democratic institutions and the public’s faith in public institutions and processes, and the Bangladeshi authorities had further undermined democratic institutions and processes by rigging elections and violently silencing or arresting over 8,000 members of the opposition party in order to maintain power, subjecting their citizens to arbitrary arrests, intimidation, surveillance, extortion, and torture, and carrying out over 600 enforced disappearances since 2009, of which 100 individuals are still missing.

She also said that the Australian government gave $116.2 million in developmental aid to Bangladesh in the 2023–24 financial year and supported Bangladeshi students as they pursued graduate school in Australia.

The government should keep a close watch on how this money and support is distributed so that it does not end up in the hands of corrupt officials who are actively involved in human rights violations and undermine democracy, she said.

She urged support for anti-corruption efforts in Bangladesh to make government services more transparent and affordable, improve the business and regulatory environment, and build capacity for investigating and prosecuting money laundering and other financial crimes.

She also demanded the house calls on the Bangladeshi government to immediately allow a free, fair, and democratic election to occur and calls on the Australian government to immediately review its funding arrangements with Bangladesh, including more comprehensive screening of Bangladeshi officials, to ensure Australian funds are being used to support the people of Bangladesh and not lining the pockets of corrupt officials.