Opposition lawmakers Sunday sought specific information on the allegations, raised by both the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), of hiring lobbyists in the United States.
They wanted to know whether any lobbyists were actually hired, and if so, which party spent how much money doing so.
BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid and Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Haque made the demand, participating in a point of order in parliament.
In response, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said he would make a statement with evidence on the next working day.
Earlier, on 17 January, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam, told parliament that the BNP had spent money on lobbying in the US in the last five years, for which he had evidence.
In response, BNP's Harunur Rashid yesterday said, "It is not right to present a statement based on conjecture. The foreign minister should clearly mention whether the BNP or the AL actually hired lobbyists in the US."
JP lawmaker Mujibul Haque said the state minister for foreign affairs had told parliament that the BNP had spent Tk32 crore on lobbyists in the US. "Why did they hire a lobbyist? Is it in the interest of the people of the country, or against the interest of the people? This issue has not been cleared," he said.
He added in a press conference after the state minister's statement, that the BNP has claimed the ruling party has been recruiting lobbyists since 2014, spending Tk30 crore every year.
"Did the ruling party really hire lobbyists? Why did they do it and where did the money come from? Was the money spent from the government treasury, or from the party's own resources?" the JP lawmaker said, continuing, "The people of the country and we want to know where the BNP and the AL got the money to hire lobbyists."
He demanded a government statement in this regard and an investigation by a neutral organisation into the allegations.
Govt feeding lobbyists, spending tax money: BNP
Meanwhile, taking part in the discussion in a motion of thanks for the president's speech, BNP lawmaker Rumeen Farhana said hiring a lobbyist firm is nothing new. She said the government has been feeding lobbyist firms in America for a long time, spending crores of the people's tax money.
According to her, the government paid a firm $320,000 last year. Besides paying this firm by the name of BGR, Bangladesh's ambassador to Washington, Shahidul Islam, signed a one-month deal for $40,000 with the Friedlander Group of the US in September last year, said MP Rumeen Farhana.
She added that the Bangladesh government also signed another one-month agreement with Conewago Consulting through the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute. On condition of paying $35,000 in advance, the agreement was signed by Salman F Rahman, the prime minister's adviser on private industry and investment.
MP Farhana claimed that in 2005, 2006 and 2007, the US unit of Awami League provided more than $1.5 million to lobby firm Alcalde and Fay.
Regarding the ban on RAB, she said, "The situation clearly indicates that the ban is not going to end here. Twelve world-renowned human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have called on the United Nations to reconsider the inclusion of RAB members in the UN peacekeeping force, and the United Nations is considering the issue."
MP Rumeen Farhana said that since the United Nations has asked for information on a number of victims of enforced disappearance, the government is trying to resolve the issue by cracking down on the families of missing persons. She said the police is forcing their relatives to make written statements to the effect that no one has picked them up and taken them away.