Still 30 m people live below poverty line
Abu Sazzad: Experts have underscored the need for reducing social inequality and income disparity to eradicate poverty from Bangladesh.
Poverty rate declined significantly in the recent years due to higher economic growth but poor employment generation is impeding the poverty reduction in the country, they said.
Although the government, non-government organizations and development partners have undertaken several initiatives to reduce poverty rate but the rising corruption and ill-gotten resources are deep concerns according to the experts. According to the Global Economist Forum, Bangladesh needs to ensure zero rates of poverty, employment and carbon emission to attain a mid-level status country by 2030. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the annual poverty rate was 48.90 percent in 2010, followed by 40 percent in 2005, 31.50 percent in 2010, 23.20 percent in 2016 and 21.80 percent in 2018.
On the other hand, the annual extreme poverty rates were 34.30 percent, 25.10 percent, 17.60 percent, 12.90 percent and 11.30 percent in 2000, 2005, 2010, 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Meanwhile, in 2018, purchasing power parity (PPP) was 32 LCU per international dollars. Over the last 20 years, purchasing power parity of Bangladesh grew substantially from 15.4 to 32 LCU per international dollars rising at an increasing annual rate that reached a maximum of 6.13 percent in 2012 and then decreased to 3.27 percent in 2018.
Talking to Daily Industry, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank told that the basic point of inequality arises because we have deviated from the original position of the social contract which leads to increase the inequality but the authorities concerned failed to remove it.
Still, some 30 million people live below the poverty line, their earnings hovering at around US$ 2000 a year, Ahmed said.
The lacks of policy continuation especially the change of income tax law every year is responsible to create an unpredictable situation. Such sort of whimsical decisions by policymakers are not very helpful. “I identified that poverty, originating in an unjust social order, create and reproduce it.
A traditional agenda recognizes these problems, but have not come up with any concrete ideas about what we can do about it. “Contemporary interventions suffer from this weakness. So you have this paradoxical situation of reductions in poverty but widening of inequality and disparity. The principal interventions therefore now need to refocus on the sources of the problem”, said Ahmed.
Dr Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at BIDS said the civil society must bear the displeasure of the government. Many of the conclusions the civil society comes up with may not be liked by the government but they should have the strength to handle the displeasure of the government, which is often very difficult in Bangladesh. “Whenever I am opposing the government in a very critical way, it is very difficult. If I am truthful about the findings, the nature of the displeasure and its outcome can be very intense and detrimental to my work. What can we do? We want this accountability of governments”, she said.
“We cannot say there is no possibility of falling back into poverty. It is not that everyone would fall back, but there are issues such as global economic crisis, natural disasters, health risks and accidents, which can bring a family, back to poverty again,” Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) Executive Chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman said.
He added that it is the responsibility of the government to reduce the risk of falling back into poverty through policy measures.
Recently, the Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said “I hope you will see significant improvement in poverty reduction in the next two or three years, as the government has increased social safety net coverage, and targeted vulnerable groups of people with specific programs to bring them out of poverty,” the finance minister added.
He further said the government is training people so that they may take part in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and is also looking to create 10 million jobs across the country through the establishment of 100 Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
The finance minister hoped that the poverty rate would come down to less than 3 percent (zero poverty level) by 2030.