We may be seeing record GDP growth, but that does not mean our economy is proceeding in the right direction. In fact, the results of various surveys in this connection are quite worrisome.
The government claims that the GDP rate is 7.6 per cent and the country’s per capital income has increased. That may be true, but the question is whether that increased income is benefitting the general public in any way. A recent study of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has brought to light many shortcomings and discrepancies that need to be taken into cognisance. If economic growth has indeed broken all records, then why are investments in the private sector at a standstill? Businesses are taking excessive loans from the banks and records show large amounts of industrial machinery being imported from abroad, so the lack of investment is mysterious indeed. It is not only CPD, but several local and foreign organisations that are questioning, where does all the money go?
If we see the volume of money being deposited in Swiss banks by Bangladeshis, then we can deduct where all the money is going. Names of Bangladeshi businessmen appear in the Panama Papers too. Then are the so many with ‘second homes’ in Canada and Malaysia.
Upon coming to power in 2009, the Awami League government went all out to tackle the capital flight and bring the funds back home. Some was brought back, but then things gradually fizzled out. Even the anti corruption commission remained strangely silent about the names of persons who appeared in the Panama Papers.
Another point of concern in CPD’s research is that in the financial policy the loan target has exceeded 16.5 per cent and is now 18.5 per cent. The government has given the owners of private banks unjustified facilities, but still the rates of interests haven’t been lowered. As a result, there is little likelihood of any increase in investments.
As it is there is an increased in income imbalance in the country and this will undoubtedly increase further with a hike in inflation. Inflation causes persons actual income to decrease. Increase in salaries does not mean an actual increase in income. When less commodities or services can be purchased with the increased salary than the original salary, that means income has decreased. The government simply paves the way for the wealthy to become wealthier. Surely this cannot be done at the expense of the general public.
CPD has called for an increase in social security allocations. We agree with this and add that that the government must no tamper with the allocation for the poor. There is no credit in bringing the rate of poverty down to 22 per cent in 47 years since independence. It could have been possible to reduce poverty much more in this time. The objective of our independence struggle was to alleviate poverty and ensure the basic rights of every citizen, that is, food, shelter, clothing, education and health.
If growth increases, this should benefit each and every citizen. Income imbalance must be eliminated.