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Habibullah Mizan
The size of the new cabinet is going to be expanded with the joining of more ministers very soon, according to reliable sources.
It seems obvious that more faces would be inducted in the latest cabinet for some valid reasons. The first reason comes with a major obligation to the allies; another ground behind it is that some ministries lack full ministers; and lastly an automatic demand comes for a bigger size cabinet after a landslide victory in the December 30 parliamentary election.
Meanwhile, there might be a major change in the prime minister’s advisory council as activities of some advisors sparked criticism in the past.
There are speculations that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would be very selective in picking new advisors this time. Analysing all the activities of the current advisors, the head of the government may include and exclude some advisors.
Some advisors whose performance is not satisfactory might be excluded from the advisory council.
On the other hand, some fresh faces might be included in the advisory council. During her first term as prime minister in 1996, Sheikh Hasina did not form any powerful advisory council. That time, she had only one advisor, Dr SA Maleqe, who worked as her political advisor.
But coming into power again in 2008, Sheikh Hasina formed a powerful advisory council.
However, some of the advisors failed to live up to the PM’s expectations. Sometimes, their involvement in alleged irregularities including bank loan scams has embarrassed the PM.
In a financial scam, where a private company named Hallmark Group in Bangladesh swindled more than US$1 billion from state-owned Sonali Bank, the name of advisor Professor Dr Syed Modasser Ali had appeared in local media as the top abettor of this financial crime.
It is also reported in media that the same racket of swindlers, under patronisation of the advisor had robbed billions of dollars from few state-owned financial enterprises. At one stage, he was removed by Sheikh Hasina who has a zero tolerance policy against corruption.
Questions were also raised whether this advisory council is a parallel cabinet of the government. It was also speculated that some advisors were more powerful than the ministers.
Some advisors also attended cabinet meetings, which also sparked criticism among different quarters. At one stage, the powers of these advisors were made limited.
But the advisors continued their functions in limited scale. Coming in power in 2014, Prime Minister did not bring any major changes in her advisory council.
Professor Modasser Chowdhury and Professor Alauddin Ahmed were excluded while Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury was included in the advisory council of the prime minister. But their activities were very limited.