>govt-parliament secretariat row over Nam flats

>THE housing and public works ministry is at loggerheads with the Parliament Secretariat over the control of the Nam apartments and realising their increased rent from resident former lawmakers. (Read full story)
The Parliament Secretariat has not yet responded to the several letters the ministry has sent since December last year asking it to cancel the allotments first and then issue fresh ones so that the increased rents could be realised.
The secretariat, which formed a committee that recommended increasing the rents for the Nam flats in December, said the ministry does not have the authority to impose higher rent on the former MPs.
“MPs of the eighth parliament received allotments of the flats from the House Committee to live there in between the elections, and parliament is the proper authority to decide how much the rent would be,” Deputy Speaker Akhter Hamid Siddiqui told The Daily Star yesterday.
Housing ministry officials, meanwhile, said the former lawmakers have “little right” to live in the Nam flats.
“There has been no parliament for a long time. Do the former lawmakers have any ethical right to live in the flats for just Tk 400-500 a month and not pay any electricity bill although parliament expired 17 months ago?” a high official of the ministry said, requesting anonymity.
But the deputy speaker argued, “The former lawmakers are still living in the Nam flats as the parliamentary elections did not take place timely.”
Three hundred and twenty-four flats were constructed in 2001 for the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam) summit that was supposed to be held in Dhaka.
After getting charge of 304 flats the Parliament Secretariat allotted those to the members of the eighth parliament in June 2005.
The lawmakers pay a monthly rent of Tk 400 for a 1,250 square feet flat and Tk 500 for a 1,800 sqft one and no electricity bill.
Many former lawmakers vacated the flats by June last year.
On June 19, the caretaker government handed over the total responsibility of the flats to the housing ministry for renting them to government officials on a temporary basis and the ministry asked the Parliament Secretariat to ensure that the flats are vacated.
However, 160 flats are still occupied by former lawmakers and their families, said sources.As there was little possibility that the ninth parliamentary elections would be held soon, the Parliament Secretariat formed a committee last year headed by its additional secretary to determine what to do with the flats.
“The committee recommended giving back the occupied flats to the government and renting those for a period until the next parliamentary elections. To implement the recommendations, we asked the Parliament Secretariat in December to cancel the allotments so that we could make fresh allotments. The ex-lawmakers could also rent those from the Directorate of Government Accommodation [DGA],” a top official of the housing ministry said.
In December, the government increased the rent for a 1,250 sqft flat to Tk 20,000 a month and 1,800 sqft flat to Tk 25,000 for the lawmakers with retrospective effect.


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