We're Live Bangla Wednesday, June 07, 2023

1% of Bangladesh's population holds 16.3% of national income: Report


Just 1 percent of Bangladesh's population holds 16.3 percent of the total national income in 2021 and the bottom half 17.1 percent, according to a report -- making it a quintessence of poor and unequal country.

The report, titled 'World Inequality Report 2022', by the World Inequality Lab of Paris did not give any ranking to Bangladesh.

Seeing that neighbouring India -- where 20 percent of the national income is held by the top 1 percent -- topped the list, Bangladesh would rank quite high.

The latest update of the index, published on December 7, showed 44 percent of Bangladesh's total national income is held by only 10 percent of the population.

The figures did not change much from the previous year but showed how income inequality has been rising since the 1980s.

In 1981, the share of pre-tax national income of 1 percent of people was 11.8 percent while the bottom 50 percent held 20 percent wealth.

The scenario has been stable in recent years but the number of poor is increasing day by day and also the number of rich, according to economists.

"The trend is not new -- inequality has been increasing for years as our GDP is not increasing inclusively," said Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM).

The latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey published in 2016 showed a worrying development.

"The survey showed the country did not generate as much employment, did not spend enough on the health sector, education and social transfer protection. These are the basics for reducing the gap," Raihan said.

The report also suggests so: the US had about 33 intensive care unit beds per 100,000 people when the global coronavirus pandemic broke, but India, Pakistan and Bangladesh had about 2.

Corruption was another major cause for the increasing inequality, Raihan said.

"We must address the issue of corruption in every stage of our system. Our taxation structure is also weak," he added.

It is a general theory that if a country is economically growing fast, the inequality will also increase there, Shamsul Alam, the state minister for planning, told The Daily Star.

"But since 2016, things have been stable on the inequality front. But we are trying to reduce the gap by connecting the country through roads and highways, providing electricity facility, internet-mobile phones," he said.

The gap will not increase as the government is trying to create more employment through emphasising industries.

"We are trying to reduce the corruption, which was a historical problem in our country. But we made a free and fair Anti-Corruption Commission, where lots of pro-government people are also facing cases," he added.

The report also said in Bangladesh, Myanmar and South Africa, full-time employees work around 2,100 hours per year compared with 1,600 in rich countries.