‘Rural Bangladeshis spend more than they earn’

Prothom Alo English Desk | Update:

Rising inequality and social distress belie claims of development in Bangladesh in recent times, says the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).

It refers to a World Bank report that echoed ‘the government rhetoric’, stating that “Bangladesh is regarded globally as an example remarkable progress in poverty reduction and human development.”

In an article “Income inequality worsening in Bangladesh” published on Tuesday, WSWS said the claims of the government and the WB “have nothing to do with the reality confronting millions of ordinary people”.

The WSWS pointed out that average monthly income was Tk 13,353 as against expenditure of Tk 14,156.

“In other words, for most of the rural masses, expenditure exceeded income. This has created a mounting debt crisis and condemned hundreds of thousands to abject poverty,” it said.

The article dwelt on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey for 2016 by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) published in October and said it demonstrated that the spoils of economic growth have gone to the capitalist elite.

The WSWS article said the income share of the poorest 5 per cent of the population was 0.23 per cent, a sharp fall from the 2010 figure of 0.78 per cent. In contrast, the richest 5 per cent’s income share rose to 27.89 per cent, up from 24.61 per cent in 2010.

The top 10 per cent’s income share rose from 35.84 to 38.16 per cent, whereas the bottom 10 per cent saw their share halve from 2 to 1.01 per cent, the article added.

The average national monthly income was Tk 15,945, barely above the average monthly expenditure of Tk 15,715.

“For poor and working-class families, more than 98 per cent of income was spent on the minimum daily necessities of life,” said the WSWS.

It also observed that economic growth in Bangladesh has been based on the super-exploitation of workers in the garment sector, and other industries, by multinational companies and the local ruling elite.

Citing a report by the Fair Labour Association (FLA) published last month, it said garment workers were deprived of wages that are even close to a living wage.

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