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Resort, park and duplexes: Matiur’s empire of assets

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Matiur

From his birthplace in Barishal to Dhaka, Gazipur, Narsingdi, and Feni, extensive properties have been found linked to former NBR official Matiur Rahman, who came to the limelight after his son attempted to purchase a sacrificial goat for Tk15 lakh.

The properties include land, apartments, factories, luxurious houses, and resorts. While some are registered under Matiur Rahman’s name, a significant portion is held in the names of his first wife Laila Kanis Lucky, his son, daughter, and various relatives.

The highlight of Matiur’s reported assets appears to be Wonder Park, an amusement park in Narsingdi’s Raipur upazila linked to his first wife. The park occupies around 15 bighas of land.

Additionally, Apon Bhuban Picnic and Shooting Spot, a sprawling 60-bigha resort reportedly co-owned by Matiur and his wife, boasts various amenities and has been used for filming locations.

Matiur is now attached to the Internal Resources Division (IRD) of the finance ministry after being removed as the president of NBR Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal.

Currently under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for allegedly possessing undisclosed assets, he had constructed two luxurious duplex houses—one for his first wife and another for his second wife’s mother.

Additionally, he also has investments in the capital market, which served as a significant source of his wealth accumulation.

Matiur is currently not available for comment and his whereabouts is also unknown.

Assets and influence in his own village

In Bahadurpur village of Barishal’s Muladi upazila, a gate with a minaret marks the Howlader House. Nestled between a three-storey madrassa and a two-storey mosque, it’s the childhood home of Matiur Rahman, a schoolteacher’s son better known locally as Pintu.

According to locals, Matiur’s village property spans a sizable 1.45 acres, with additional agricultural land estimated between 20 and 50 acres. While the ownership of the agricultural land remains unclear, locals claim his family has accumulated significant holdings in recent years.

They point to Matiur’s younger brother, Qaiyum Howlader, who they believe possesses even greater wealth in the area.

Qaiyum also was not available for comment.

Villagers say Qaiyum, a former leader in local BNP, saw his fortunes rise with Matiur’s ascension to the NBR.

Qaiyum eventually established a travel bag manufacturing factory in Tongi and expanded into other local businesses. Two years ago, he purchased a house worth Tk10 crore in Muladipur.

Contacted, Matiur’s cousins, currently living in Bahadurpur, vehemently deny the allegations against the family.

“These claims are a conspiracy against Boro Mia [Matiur],” said Mahamudunnabi, his cousin.

“He [ Matiur] has built his wealth through hard work and responsible living. Even during his school days, he was known for his frugality, saving every penny.”

Another cousin, Fakhruddin Hawlader, said that both he and Mahmudunnabi look after the mosque and madrasa established by Matiur under the Howlader Foundation, which he claims is funded by donations from locals.

Fakhruddin further said Matiur has established the Rahmania Technical School & BM College, a cyclone shelter, mosque, madrasa, and health centre near his residence. All the establishments are overseen by the Howlader Foundation.

He said Matiur facilitated the construction of a cement-block embankment along the Koyla Canal in Bahadurpur village by the Water Development Board.

However, Kazirchar Union Chairman Montu Biswas alleged that Matiur established the technical school and college by occupying land in the Koyla Canal. “The closure of the canal is causing problems in agriculture,” he said.

According to locals, Matiur’s father, Abdul Hakim, was a school teacher and the union BNP vice-president. Following his retirement in 2003, he was also elected as the chairman of the local union parishad.

There are allegations that Matiur used his money and influence to help his father get elected.

Locals ‘forced’ to sell land for Wonder Park in Narsingdi

The Wonder Park in Narsingdi’s Raipura upazila, linked to his first wife Laila Kanis Lucky, seems more like a forgotten dream than a thriving amusement centre.

A news reporter visit reveals a desolate scene – a Tk 200 entry fee followed by additional charges for rides that are malfunctioning and shrouded in dust. No staff are present to operate them.

Couples occasionally enter, but the silence and deserted atmosphere are unsettling.

Locals recall a more vibrant past. Young men reminisced about playing in a field that’s now vanished. There’s also a 2-3 bigha lake beside the park, with white ducks enjoying its waters.

No one felt comfortable talking about Laila Kanis.

A resident, speaking anonymously, described her land acquisition tactics. “Kanis simply informed landowners she needed the property. Negotiation wasn’t an option, and given their powerful position, refusal wasn’t either.”

A local woman recounted a similar story. “They took our land, which was worth Tk60,000 per decimal at the time, and offered a paltry Tk1 lakh in return.”

Others shared experiences of receiving land payments in installments or at unfair rates.

Locals recall that Kanis’s father Kafil Master lived modestly in a mud house.

Now, she has a luxurious white duplex in Morjal village that stands out with its modern architectural style. It is surrounded by rows of domestic and foreign trees, a lush green yard, staff accommodations, and an aesthetically pleasing establishment nearby.

However, no one was found inside the large gate of the house.

Kanis also has a road named after herself near the Morjal High School in Raipura.

She is reportedly involved with the local Awami League as the district relief and disaster affairs secretary.

Asked about this, Narsingdi-5 lawmaker Rajiuddin Ahmed said, “I don’t know anything about Laila Kanis’s position in the party. The District Awami League can explain why they gave her the post. At that time, I was not closely connected with the District Awami League.”

There are also allegations that she was made upazila chairman without a vote, with the MP’s help, by forcibly removing other competitors from the candidacy.

On this allegation, Rajiuddin Ahmed said, “I did not make her the chairman; the one whom the people wanted became the chairman.”

Property disclosed in affidavit of Kanis

According to the affidavit submitted to the Election Commission during Laila Kanis’s chairman candidacy, her annual income from the agricultural sector is Tk18 lakh.

Additionally, she earns Tk9.90 lakh from house and shop rents, about Tk3.82 lakh from dividends on shares, savings, and bank deposits, Tk1.63 lakh from the upazila chairman’s honorarium, and about Tk1.19 lakh from bank interest. She has deposits totaling Tk3.55 crore in various banks and financial institutions.

Laila Kanis’s immovable properties include a total of 18.5 katha of land in various places, including Dhaka and Savar. She also has 99.65 decimals of land in different areas of Gazipur and 364.93 decimals in her district, Narsingdi.

Additionally, she has land in Jashore and Natore, and 154 decimals of agricultural land in her name. According to her tax files, she also owns multiple flats in the Bashundhara residential area in Dhaka.

60-bigha resort and more land in Gazipur

Adding to the questions surrounding Matiur Rahman’s wealth is the Apon Bhuban Picnic and Shooting Spot in Gazipur. This sprawling 60-bigha resort in Pubail’s Khilgaon area boasts a variety of amenities, all under Matiur and his wife’s name.

The picturesque property features charming bamboo and cane houses, a modern conference hall, a delightful mango orchard, and a lake adorned with bridges.

Guests can unwind at the restaurant, playgrounds, extensive north-facing garden, or the unique glass terrace. Additional features include a greenhouse, a bungalow house, and a fishing pond.

Previously used for film and drama shoots, Apon Bhuban has opened its doors to the public for an entry fee of Tk100.

According to park officials, employees, and locals, Matiur Rahman and his wife, Laila Kanis Lucky, acquired the land for Apon Bhuban with the assistance of a local influential figure, Aminul Islam.

Initial purchases totaled 35 bighas, with additional land either rented or acquired later to bring the total area to 60 bighas.

The resort boasts 18 cottages, each with a nightly rate of Tk7,000.

Locals seem familiar with the ownership structure. “Everyone knows Apan Bhuban belongs to Kanis madam,” remarked Sharif Hossain, a local shopkeeper, “and now we know she’s Matiur Rahman’s wife.”

Efforts to reach Rajib Mia, the supervisor of Apon Bhuban, were unsuccessful at the resort. However, he later confirmed via phone that the resort occupies roughly 60 bighas, with 35 bighas owned by the Matiur family and the remainder leased from local residents.

However, according to Gazipur district administration sources, there are 5 acres and 777 decimals of land registered under the name of Apan Bhuban Resort and Picnic Spot.

In addition to this resort, more land has been found registered under the names of Matiur, his wife, and children in various locations in Gazipur.

Duplex building for mother-in-law

In the Sonapur area of Sonagazi, Feni, Matiur Rahman built a luxurious house for his father-in-law. Locals say that upon the request of his second wife, Shammi Akhtar Shibu, Matiur Rahman gifted this duplex house to her mother-in-law ten years ago.

The management of this luxury house is overseen by a local man named Jasim Uddin. He mentioned that Matiur Rahman’s mother-in-law currently resides in her daughter’s house in Dhaka and occasionally visits the Sonagazi property.

“Two months ago, Matiur Rahman, along with his wife Shammi Akhtar Shibu, son Mushfiqur Rahman Ifat, and mother-in-law, visited the house and returned to Dhaka after a two-day stay,” Jasim Uddin added.

Locals also mentioned that Matiur Rahman holds some land in Feni and Sonagazi under the names of relatives, with his wife’s cousin Arifur Rahman overseeing these properties.

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UK inflation holds at 2% in June: official data

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UK Inflation

Britain’s inflation rate held steady in June after returning to the Bank of England’s target the previous month, official data showed Wednesday, confounding expectations for another modest slowdown.

The Consumer Prices Index was unchanged at 2.0 percent in June from the same level in May, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, compared with market forecasts of 1.9 percent.

“Hotel prices rose strongly, while second-hand car costs fell but by less than this time last year,” said ONS chief executive Grant Fitzner.
“However, these were offset by falling clothing prices, with widespread sales driving down their cost.

“Meanwhile, the cost of both raw materials and goods leaving factories fell on the month, though factory gate prices remain above where they were a year ago.”

Analysts said the data could cause the Bank of England to sit tight for a while longer before starting to cut interest rates.

“The chances of an interest rate cut in August have diminished a bit more,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at research consultancy Capital Economics.

Last month, the BoE kept its key interest rate at a 16-year high of 5.25 percent, despite slowing inflation in May.

Britain’s newly elected Labour government welcomed news that inflation remained at the BoE’s target level.

“It is welcome that inflation is at target,” said Darren Jones, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in a statement.

“But we know that for families across Britain prices remain high… (which) is why this government is taking the tough decisions now to fix the foundations” of the UK economy, he said.

Labour, led by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer, has pledged immediate action to grow the economy after the centre-left party won a landslide general election victory to end 14 years of Conservative rule.

Later on Wednesday, King Charles III will read out Labour’s first programme for government in a decade and a half, when the UK parliament formally reopens following the July 4 election.
Elevated interest rates have worsened a UK cost-of-living squeeze because they increase borrowing repayments, thereby cutting disposable incomes and crimping economic activity.

The BoE began a series of rate hikes in late 2021 to combat inflation, which rose after countries emerged from Covid lockdowns and accelerated after the invasion of Ukraine by key oil and gas producer Russia.

 

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China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

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China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

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Concerns Mount Over Revenue Loss as South Asia’s Largest Land Port Curtails Operations

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Bangladeshi officials are grappling with fears of revenue loss as the largest land port in South Asia, situated along the India-Bangladesh border, has ceased operations for 10 hours each day since July 11.

The Petrapole Land Port in India, crucial for trade between the two nations, has been shutting down from 6 PM to 8 AM daily, without providing any explanation for the closure, according to officials from the Benapole Land Authority in Bangladesh. This unexpected halt has left Bangladeshi authorities and traders in a state of uncertainty, as there is no indication of when the operations might resume to normalcy.

Industry insiders warn that this disruption could lead to a significant revenue shortfall at Benapole port due to decreased imports, adversely affecting Bangladeshi importers with delayed product deliveries.

Rezaul Karim, Director of Traffic at Benapole Land Port Authority, emphasized that while Benapole has been maintaining 24-hour operations, Petrapole’s recent restrictions are hindering cargo truck movements after evening.

“We have inquired with the Petrapole port authority about the reasons for halting trade services after evening. They responded that the matter is under discussion with relevant authorities,” Karim said.

Sultan Mahmud Bipul, Secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Association International Checkpost Affairs, highlighted the fiscal implications of this disruption. “Benapole port has set a revenue target of Tk6,705 crore from imported goods for the fiscal year 2024-25. If the 24-hour import facility remains discontinued, it will severely impact our revenue targets,” he noted.

Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary of Benapole Landport Importers and Exporters Association, pointed out the severe impact on trade, particularly with perishable goods. “Traders dealing with perishable food products are incurring the biggest losses due to this halt. The inability of goods trucks to enter after evening will widen the trade deficit,” Rahman remarked.

As the situation unfolds, the Benapole Land Port Authority and associated trade bodies continue to seek clarity and resolution from their Indian counterparts to mitigate the economic repercussions of this operational disruption.

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