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26 February, 2019 10:54:50 AM

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Measures to minimise income inequality

Conscious people and different rights organisations across the country also need to convince the authorities to overhaul their socio-economic, health and education policies so that the entire country is equitably benefited from the ongoing development activities
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Measures to minimise income inequality

With the economic advancement of the country income inequalities in Bangladesh are gradually rising alarmingly. A study report presented by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and a local non-governmental research organisation shows that the income inequalities 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 the port city of Chittagong earned on an average 30 per cent less income than those living in the capital, not to speak of the people living in other areas.
The survey report indicates how economic resources, in particular, are concentrated in the hands of a section of the people living in Dhaka. It is important to note that only 5.4 per cent of the households that earn above Tk 100, 000 every month have about 40 per cent of the total income of the Dhaka population. We all know that income is directly linked to access to basic rights such as education and health and basic amenities such as housing, water, electricity and sanitation. All of 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 and over all a breach of human rights. On the top of all this high income inequalities are also regarded as ruinous for a country’s stability – political and social in particular – and harmonious development of the country.

Because of the flawed and unequal policies pursued by successive governments ever since the 1971 independence, the public administration is highly centralised. As a result, one has, in fact, little reasons for surprise at the situation at hand. Moreover, the capital city has been heavily and unduly prioritised over all other areas across the country in the period so far as development work is concerned. We need, therefore, urgent decentralisation of the public administration and accordingly develop other areas of the country also to correct inequalities in income among the regions and its people. All public policies need urgently to be framed and implemented in an inclusive manner to make a difference. It needs mention that, because of the flawed successive governments’ policies, millions of people mostly poor, from remote backward 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 livability.

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 to help people comfortably live in their localities – this is urgent. Decentralisation of the country’s administration, health, education facilities and making adequate, suitable and gainful 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 to halt the stream of people towards the capital. Conscious people and different rights organizations across the country also need to convince the governments to overhaul their socio-economic, heath and education policies so that the entire country is equitably benefited from the ongoing development activities to enjoy a convenient and equitable living standard all over the country.  

At the same time it is also important that 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 – so, among other reasons, 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 have the right to enjoy the due democratic rights, respect and privileges as important citizens of the country. Moreover, the political leaders, especially the members of the parliament have to live in their respective constituency to inspire the people of the country to live in the countryside with dignity.

Members of the parliament and other important political leaders have to shun the habit of having residential house/houses in the capital or big cities and instead build residential house in their respective constituencies and live there. This will make them mindful to develop their respective constituencies in attractive and comfortably living fashion.

Such practices on the public representatives’ part will ensure the process of egalitarian development of the country with egalitarian distribution of income among the regions and the people. Thus the entire country may become harmoniously developed to induce people to live in the countryside and not to crowd the capital city or other cities and towns for education, jobs, healthcare, living and livelihoods.   

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

SHK

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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