POST TIME: 4 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Major reshuffle in cabinet
Except for new faces, Menon gets social welfare; water resources minister Anisul Islam and environment minister Anwar Hossain get portfolios swapped; Tarana made state minister for information
Special Correspondent

Major reshuffle in cabinet

The day after inducting three news faces to the Cabinet, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed them their portfolios yesterday. At the same time, she made a major reshuffle in her Cabinet.

Of the newly appointed ministers, AKM Shahjahan Kamal, the MP of Laxmipur-3 constituency, was made the civil aviation and tourism minister. When approached, he told The Independent that he will mete out punishment to the conspirators who have been trying to hold back national flag carrier Biman and reshape the organisation.

“I will ensure punishment for the conspirators in Biman and overhaul the organization,” he said.

Mustafa Jabbar, president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), was given the charge of posts, telecommunications, and information and technology as the minister.

Jabbar, while addressing a reception accorded to him by Bangladesh Computer Society yesterday, said he will try to bring ‘digital industrial revolution’ to the ICT sector in the country.  Kazi Keramat Ali, the MP from Rajbari-1 constituency, was made the state minister for the Technical and Madrasa Education Division of the education ministry.

The newly sworn in state minister for technical and madrasa education told The Independent last night that students pursuing technical education are neglected in Bangladesh in terms of getting employment.  

“My mission will be to make at least one technical subject compulsory at Class VIII and onwards so that after completing their education, the students do not remain jobless… I want to ensure jobs for all students under the technical education board,” he said.

The new state minister also added that he will try to convince the prime minister about his plan. Of the incumbent ministers, civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon was transferred to the social welfare ministry, while water resources minister Anisul Islam Mahmud was given the charge of the forests and environment ministry.

The minister for forests and environment, Anwar Hossain Manju, is now the water resources minister. State minister for posts and telecommunications, Tarana Halim, was made the state minister for information. State minister for fisheries and livestock, Narayon Chandra Chanda, was promoted to the position of minister for the same department.

The reshuffle has raised many questions among the civil bureaucracy and staff in different ministries and divisions. All these ministers are from the member parties of the Grand Alliance led by the Awami League.

Menon, who is also the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Bangladesh, was shifted from civil aviation and tourism apparently for his failure to lift the ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London.

The UK slapped an embargo on direct air cargo shipment from Dhaka to London in March 2016 after citing security reasons.

Menon told The Independent that he was not displeased with the change of his portfolio. “Social welfare is a big ministry, and there is a lot of scope to work for the people,” he said.

Manju told this correspondent that the relocation of portfolios depends on the PM. She can relocate or even remove someone from her Cabinet. “I have no say in this regard,” he said.

Manju, the chairman of Jatiya Party (JP-Manju), is the MP from Pirojpur-2 constituency.

About the relocation of Tarana Halim, a senior minister pointed out that she is a politician, lawyer, television and film actress, and a playwright. “She will be able to serve the information ministry better,” he pointed out.

Since July 2014, Halim had been serving as the state minister for post and telecommunications under the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications, and Information Technology.