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Curbing corruption, influence of middlemen stressed to reduce income inequality

  • Published at 11:01 pm September 7th, 2019
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'Corruption is a great barrier to economic development. Nepotism-driven capitalism widened income equality. As a result, upper class enjoyed the most of benefits of GDP growth'

Eminent economists on Saturday stressed preventing corruption and nepotism, and curing influence of middlemen in checking growing income inequality. 

They came up with the call at a national seminar on “Income and wealth inequality in Bangladesh” organized by Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) in the capital. 

Former Bangladesh Governor Dr Mohammed Farashuddin attenuated the conference as chief guest, while BEA President Abul Barkat presided over the meeting.

“Bangladesh has well performed in all human index, except maternal motility rate, among the South Asian countries. But the income inequality is increasing gradually in the country,” said Farashuddin.

Bangladesh has moved three steps up in the Global Human Development Index (HDI) 2018 to rank 136th among 189 countries, according to the latest Human Development Report.

“Economic development should not be measured only with the per capita income. The government has to ensure that every marginalized people in society get their portion from the economic growth already attained,” said the economist. 

The per capita income of the country stood at $1,909 in the last fiscal year, which was $1,751 in 2017-18 fiscal year. 

Bangladesh moved towards economic growth with proper distribution as development was not possible leaving behind a portion of the population, said Farashuddin.

There were 1.25 crore people with over $4,000 per capita income but only 4 lakh people paid tax, he mentioned, stating that the government must implement progressive tax system to collect revenue, especially from high income people.

“Corruption is a great barrier to economic development. Nepotism-driven capitalism widened income equality. As a result, upper class enjoyed the most of benefits of GDP growth,” said BEA former president Dr Moinul Islam in his keynote presentation titled Growing Income Inequality in Bangladesh: Ways Forward. 

According to provisional data of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic (BBS), Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 8.13% in 2018-19—the highest ever in the country’s economic history, which was 7.86% in the FY18. 

Growing income inequality was an ominous sign for the  country as the lower and lower middle income people were being deprived of their fair share of the GDP growth, said Islam.

Nepotism-driven capitalism entered the county through the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, he said. 

In the last 44 years, thousands of business-based capitalists, corrupt bureaucrats, politicians, and contractors of government projects converted them into upper class group members, said the economist. 

He urged  people to compel the government to take tough action against those involved in the mechanism of increasing income inequality. 

Stressing the importance of proper distribution of wealth, BEA President Professor Abul Barkat called for utilizing the economic growth for human development. 

He said that if GDP growth came to no use for people in the lower stratum of society, double-digit growth would bring no benefit.