Income inequalities rising alarmingly

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 15 Aug 2017, 20:58:18

Income inequalities rising alarmingly

Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Income inequalities in Bangladesh are rising alarmingly. A study report presented by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and a local non-governmental research organisation shows that differences of income between the people living in the capital and in outlying areas are, indeed, alarming. The survey conducted by the BBS and a local non-governmental research organisation on 5,600 households in Dhaka, Chittagong and eight other cities and 14 municipalities of the country. The survey found that the average income of the people living in municipality areas was 45 per cent lower than that of the people living in the capital city of Dhaka. People living in Chittagong city earned on an average 30 per cent less than those living in the capital. 

The survey report indicates how economic resources, in particular, are concentrated in the hands of a section of people living in Dhaka. It is important to note that only 5.4 per cent of the households that earn above Tk.100, 000 per month have about 40 per cent of the total income of the Dhaka population. We all know that income is directly linked with access to basic rights such as education and health and basic amenities such as housing, water, electricity and sanitation. All these are crucial, as far as leading a decent life with human dignity is concerned. So the rising income gap between those living in and outside the capital is alarming, undesirable and unacceptable. On top of everything, this high income inequalities are also regarded as ruinous for a country's stability - political and social in particular - and a balanced development of the country. 

Because of the flawed and unequal policies pursued by successive governments, the public administration is highly centralised. As a result one has, in fact, least reasons to be surprised at the situation at hand. Moreover, the capital city has been heavily prioritised over all other areas in the period. Urgent decentralisation of the public administration is therefore needed to correct inequalities of income among the regions and their people. Public policies need to be framed and implemented in an inclusive manner to make a difference. It should be mentioned that because of the flawed policies of successive governments, millions of people mostly poor, from remote areas of the country, have already migrated to the capital city while thousands more continue to do so every year, posing an increased threat to the city's habitability. 

In this connection one may refer to the findings of the study that 55 years ago the entire urban population of the country was barely 2.64 million. But currently some 15 million people live in the country's capital city alone. Besides, 70 per cent of the capital city's population migrated from villages across the country. The government is expected and desired to rise to the occasion and take effective steps to address the situation. Decentralisation of the country's administration, health, education facilities and making adequate and suitable job opportunities outside the capital together with making the villages, cities and towns across the country more suitable for living and attractive to the citizens is the only possible remedy. Conscious people and different rights organisations across the country also need to convince the government to overhaul its socio-economic, heath and education policies so that the entire country is equitably benefited with a convenient living standard.  

The capital and big city dwellers need to shun snobbery that they live in important places of the country. Such attitudes on the part of the urban citizens put psychological pressure on the non-urban dwellers and so they migrate to those places. Everyone needs to keep it in mind that Bangladesh is predominantly a rural economy and the agriculture sector feeds the urban people. So the rural people should enjoy the due democratic rights, respect and privileges as other important citizens of the country. Moreover, the political leaders, especially the members of parliament, should to live in their respective constituencies. This will make them mindful to develop their respective constituencies with all modern amenities. 

Such practices will ensure the process of egalitarian development in the country with egalitarian distribution of income among the regions and the people. Thus the entire country will be harmoniously developed to induce people to live in the countryside and not to crowd the capital city or other cities and towns for living and livelihoods.   

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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