10-yr jail for negligence to babies at daycare centres

The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the Child Daycare Centre Bill-2020 with a provision of 10 years’ jail as the maximum punishment for failure to ensure safety and security of children in daycare centres.

The bill was placed aiming to support the children of the professional and working women as the number of nuclear families is increasing day by day amid the gradual breakdown of the joint family tradition in the country.

The approval came from the weekly cabinet meeting held at the Secretariat. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting, joining it virtually from Ganobhaban.

“Today the child daycare centre bill was given the final approval, subject to the scrutiny of the legislative division,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters after the meeting.

As per the proposed law, registration will be required to run the child daycare centres and there would be a separate authority in this regard.

“No one can run any child daycare centre without any approval following enactment of the law, otherwise it will be treated as an offence,” said the Cabinet Secretary adding that the existing daycare centres will have to get registered within six months after the passage of the bill.

As per the bill, the maximum punishment for acts threatening lives of children, negligence in duty or brutal behaviours with children in daycare centres would be a ten-year imprisonment. The provision for a big financial penalty or both is also there, he said.

“If any child is lost from a daycare centre due to negligence, the highest punishment is the 10-year imprisonment or fine by Tk five lakh,” he said explaining that if any child is kidnapped from the centre, such offenses will be dealt with under the penal code.

Child daycare centres will have to arrange at least one views-exchange meeting with mothers after every three months, he said.

According to the proposed law, there will be four types of child daycare centres in Bangladesh.

The types are: Child daycare centres run with subsidy provided by the government; daycare centres run by the government, government agencies, directorates, departments, statutory agencies or autonomous agencies to provide services free of cost; daycare centres run by individuals or organisations for commercial purposes; and non-profit daycare centres run by individuals, organisations, non-government organisations, clubs, associations, corporate sector or industrial sector.

Bankers’ Book Evidence Bill

The meeting also gave the final clearance to the draft of the Bankers’ Book Evidence Bill 2021, defining the digitally recorded documents as such evidence under the proposed law.

“Though there’s an existing law about it, the draft of the new law was brought to incorporate digitally recorded evidences in it,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

The proposed law will replace the old Bankers’ Book Evidence Act 1891.

Besides, the Cabinet approved a proposal to stop production of ‘Ketoprofen’ drug. Nature conservationists have long been demanding the ban of vulture-toxic drug ‘Ketoprofen’ for saving the country’s vulture population from extinction.

Some 50,000 vultures were in the country during the 1970s, but its population has alarmingly declined. Now there are only 260 vultures in the country, according to the count of the Environment Ministry, said Khandker Anwarul Islam.

In the proposal, ‘Meloxicam’ was suggested as an alternative drug to ‘Ketoprofen’ saying that meloxicam is available in the market and its side-effect is very light.

Avoiding double taxation with Morocco

The meeting also ratified an agreement signed between Bangladesh and Morocco for the double taxation avoidance and prevention of the fiscal evasion. The agreement was signed on February 28, 2018 in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco.

“If any company is registered in the two countries, it would not require paying taxes in both the countries. Rather it’ll pay taxes in a single place as per the agreement,” said Anwarul Islam.

Martial law time ordinances

The cabinet directed different ministries to take measures for enacting new laws to replace the necessary ordinances, promulgated during the two martial law regimes, in line with a judgment of the High Court passed in 2013.

Anwarul Islam said there were several hundreds of such ordinances promulgated during the 1975 (August)-1978 and 1982-1986 (September) regimes.

“Among these, most necessary ones have already been replaced with new laws. Now there are only 59 laws, which need to be replaced,” he said adding, “Today the cabinet gave the decision that the remaining ones must be turned into law by June next.”

Age limit for vaccination registration

The Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned for bringing down the minimum age limit from 55 years to 40 years to get registered for vaccination, aiming to expand and accelerate the countrywide Covid-19 inoculation drive.

She also directed for making the registration process easier, said the Cabinet Secretary adding that the Union Digital Centres can be used for the registration purpose.

The Prime Minister urged all to maintain health guidelines, particularly wearing face-masks even, once they are vaccinated.