Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called corruption "the biggest barrier to poverty eradication", but her warnings to political colleagues have gone unheeded, media reports said.
District level officials have sent in reports that a section of the Awami League leaders are ‘grabbing` contracts through manipulation of rules and coercion of the bureaucracy, New Age newspaper said on Sunday.
Another report in the newspaper said that at a closed-door meeting of the party leaders, Syed Ashraful Islam, a minister and party spokesman, justified this saying the AL workers "must be given opportunities for doing business as a reward for their sacrifices for the party in its difficult times".
The meeting on Saturday was held at Hasina`s residence, but she was not present.
The meeting, however, suggested that the party men should show restraint, maintain discipline and abide by the laws of the land while seeking business opportunities, the newspaper quoted unnamed party officials who attended the meeting.
Bangladesh has been adjudged among the most corrupt nations by Transparency International, a global watchdog.
Hasina told an anti-poverty rally on Saturday that democracy was a prime weapon in the anti-poverty campaign and called upon all to guard against plots to destabilise the democratic system.
"If we cannot rid the country of corruption we will not be able to free it from hunger," she said and promised that her government would take every step necessary to fight corruption.
The rally was also to be addressed by opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia. But she backed out, media reports said.
Zia was defeated in last December`s poll and has since boycotted parliament. She does not share any platform with her arch political rival Hasina.
Forty-two of Bangladesh`s 345 lawmakers, a majority of them from the ruling alliance, have never paid any income tax, claiming they do not have taxable income, The Daily Star said Sunday.
Many others pay taxes, but do not declare all their earnings.
Quoting sources at the Election Commission and the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the report said most of these lawmakers have Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) but they do not pay any tax. A few do not even have TINs.