Bangladesh National Parliament
A Christian leader in Bangladesh has welcomed a proposed amendment of the Christian religious welfare trust act in the current session of Bangladesh parliament.
Mohammad Shahjahan Mian, state minister for religious affairs, introduced the bill in parliament, proposing an increase in funds for the trust from 10 million taka (US$14,250) to 50 million taka.
Nirmol Rozario, 57, a Catholic banker and general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said yesterday he thinks the trust will benefit Christians in many ways.
“As the government decided to increase the funds there is a lot to do, with support from the trust, to promote welfare for Christians. We can reform old churches, construct new, erect a wall surrounding the church, playgrounds, vocational training, teacher training and help the poor with the money coming from the interest of the deposited share,” said Rozario, who was recently appointed secretary of the trust.
He added that prime minister Sheikh Hasina said more funds in the name of the trust can be collected and be used for the developments of Christians.
However, he said, there are unsolved issues regarding directives and execution of the trust, which was set up in 1983 but never activated until now.
“The present government formed a new executive committee for the trust in 2009 with the state minister for religious affairs as the chairman. But for a long time leaders from various churches wanted a Christian religious leader to be made the head,” he said.
Church leaders from various Christian denominations fear that if they start taking funds from the trust while the government is in charge, it will ultimately try to control Church activities, said Rozario.
But he said there can be some political benefits for Christians if they start using it now.
“If we start taking assistance from the trust it will bring Christians closer to the government and eventually be good."
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