The Credit Information Bureau of Bangladesh Bank recently reportedly noted that a hundred individuals who have presented themselves as candidates at the forthcoming parliamentary elections are bank loan defaulters. From the perspective of the nation, it is good news in the sense that finally some sort of accountability is coming into the socio-political system of the country. It is a measure that will certainly boost our rather fragile democracy.

The question, however, is whether any of these hundred loan defaulters have actually been denied nominations by the parties they sought support from. Of course, there are reports of some candidates not being able to make it to the final list of electoral candidates because of the loans they owe banks. Whether any of these hundred persons listed by the CIB are among these disqualified candidates is not known, though. It would help if the CIB released the names of the individuals in order for the electorate to have a clear picture of who these intending lawmakers are, for the good reason that people are not willing to have politicians with skeletons in their cupboards pretend to speak for them in parliament.

While on the subject, we also note that a good number of nominees, in their property-related reports to the Election Commission, have made it known that they own next to nothing. That is pretty stunning, for among these people are individuals who have been known for their role in financial scams over the years. Again, they are people who have mysteriously never been prosecuted and indeed have had their shadowy past relegated to the backyard through their links with the powerful in the political circles. When such people aver that they have no property of their own, it beggars belief and for good reason. It is obvious that everything they own has been camouflaged through having their movable and immovable property transferred in the names of close family members.

And this is where we would like to make a serious suggestion. Once the elections are over, those who take charge of the government must move resolutely toward enforcing discipline in the financial sector. Loan defaulters cannot be allowed to get away with the money they owe the banks. At the same time, laws regarding investigations and confiscation of properties acquired illegally or which are not accounted for and have shrewdly been kept under the questionable ownership of members of the family need to be mulled. Corruption in whatever form we come across it cannot be acceptable. Those who agree, on behalf of the actual owners of property within the family, to affix their names to the property, must themselves be prosecuted for the crime, for crime it is.

The parliamentary elections we look forward to must be an opening of doors to a wholesome new beginning for democracy in Bangladesh.

By Editor-in-Chief -Enayetullah Khan

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