The member of parliaments raised a huge furore Wednesday as Health Minister Zahid Maleque denied the allegations of corruption and irregularities in the health sector.
A number of lawmakers earlier pointed the finger at the minister in the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) as they vented anger over the ailing health sector.
BNP lawmaker Barrister Rumeen Farhana said, "The health ministry's annual development program is only 25%. But where is the allocation going? The question is whether the ministry has the capacity to spend the allocation."
Another BNP parliamentarian Harunur Rashid said, "The health sector is going through a serious crisis. Minor changes would not eliminate the issue, rather the tree of corruption has to be uprooted. Health purchases had massive irregularities and there is nothing new to say about it."
Jatiya Party lawmaker Shamim Haider Patwary said, "The health ministry could not spend the development allocation and returned the money to the finance ministry. But we want the money to be spent."
Referring to the health minister, the member of parliament (MP) said, "If you cannot spend it, then give it to us. We will look after the healthcare and appoint the medical personnel. You people do not need to run the ministry."
Another Jatiya Party MP Pir Fazlur Rahman said, "Why have you demanded fresh allocation as the health ministry could not spend the development funds in the 2020-21 fiscal year."
Referring to the worst level of corruption, Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Haque Chunnu said, "Everyone in the health ministry, even the bricks and sand on its walls, takes bribes."
Several lawmakers also questioned the minister's foresight over coronavirus vaccine purchases.
"You lawmakers are also one of the pillars of the hospitals in your respective constituencies," Health Minister Zahid Maleque told the House. "You also have responsibilities and you have to take those."
Many lawmakers then stood up in protest of the minister's remark, and there were shouts from the opposition bench.
When the noise stopped, the health minister said, "Here you are talking about face masks purchase anomalies. But we did not yet buy those, let alone payment. Wholesale complaints would not yield anything."
On corruption allegations, the minister told the lawmakers to specify their points.
The opposition bench again started shouting and the minister remained silent for a few moments.
He said 5 crore people will receive both the doses of Covid vaccines by December this year while 80% of the population will be immunized within the first quarter of the next year.
Zahid Maleque said 25 lakh doses of Moderna vaccine will arrive in Dhaka by 2-3 July.
"The Chinese vaccines will also arrive soon. In addition, we will receive 6.30 doses under the Covax facility by December," he told the House.
"An agreement has been signed with Chinese Sinopharm for 1.5 crore doses. We have arrangements of 10 crore doses until December this year. With this, we will be able to inoculate 5 crore citizens," he said.
"Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine, which we approved recently, will provide 7 crore shots to vaccinate 7 crore people. The vaccine will be available in the first quarter of next year," he said, adding 80% of the population would hopefully be vaccinated in the first quarter of next year.
Several members of parliament demanded the reopening of educational institutions. But Education Minister Dipu Moni refused it.
The education minister said, "We cannot deny science as science says that educational institutions cannot be reopened if the infection rate does not fall below 5%. With the infection curve above 23% now, it is not possible to open the schools."
Many developed countries took the school reopening initiative, but they had to row back on the decision later, she noted. Regarding the SSC and HSC exams, Dipu Moni said the decision in this regard will be announced soon.