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Bangladesh ranks third among the world’s top countries with the fastest millionaire population growth, shows a report published by a US based research organisation, Wealth X.

The country’s High Net Worth (HNW) population is set to grow by 11.04 per cent each year in the next five years according to the findings of the research firm.

The report defines the HNW population as those with a net worth between $1 million and $30 million. The research firm on Wednesday published the report titled “Global HNW analysis: The high net worth handbook” of top 10 countries that are eyeing growth from 2018 to 2023.

Nigeria tops the list with millionaire population growth of 12 per cent while Egypt is in the second position. Bangladesh is followed by Vietnam, Poland, China, Kenya, India, Philippines and Ukraine respectively in the list.

Although rich with oil reserves, Nigeria is much talked for its corruption.

Earlier, Bangladesh surpassed all the countries with fastest growing class of rich people, according to the World Ultra Wealth Report in September, 2018 by Wealth X.

The report, then showed ultra rich with a net worth of US $30 million or more , were growing faster in Bangladesh.

According to its estimate, the ultra-rich increased by 17 per cent in five years till 2017 in the country.

On the other hand, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ report shows a widening inequality between the income of the poor and the rich.

Experts, however, believe this sudden increase of rich population in the country occurred as result of crony capitalism, as well as bribery and corruption in the banking and financial sectors, contracts and other sectors.

According to the BBS household survey of income and expenditure released in 2016, the income of five per cent of the richest families went up by 57 per cent in six years from 2010 to 2016.

At the same time, the income of five per cent poorest decreased to 59 per cent. Their per capita income lowered to 733 taka per month which was 1791 taka in 2010.

Executive chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and former advisor to caretaker government Hossain Zillur Rahman said that there was no doubt that Bangladesh is heading towards a sustainable economy.

“It is to find whether these rich people contributed to the economy or became rich in an unethical way. Because, the corruption and irregularities in banking and other sector refers to such likelihood,” he added.

However, some of the economists believe that in the initial phase of development, inequality in income increases. This discrimination decreases after the economy goes to a sustainable position. Also, they note that crony capitalism is a common picture of developing countries.

There are debates among economists about income inequality.

“It is not necessary that the income disparity increases in primary phases of development. The best instance is South Korea,” economist Wahiuddin Ahmad said in a citizens' dialogue organised by the PPRC and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

“If we cannot create effective institutional resistance against corruption and it continues like this, our economy will not be able to take the burden in the future,” he added.

Planning commission member Shamsul Alam told Prothom Alo that the government also is concerned about the increasing inequality in income.

“The government is putting emphasis on social security programmes in this regard. We are also introducing a number of initiatives to reduce the inequality in upcoming the eighth five-year plan which is underway,” he added.

Shamsul Alam also said that the overall GDP growth in Bangladesh is high. “New resources are being created and so the growth is increasing. Therefore it is only natural that the number of millionaires will increase,” he added.

*This piece originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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