Bangladesh is in a relatively good position among the South Asian countries in tackling inequality in distribution of income and expenditure, says a World Bank report.
According to the report titled ‘Addressing Inequality in South Asia’, Bangladesh is third among the eight countries of the region in the inequality index — Gini coefficient or Gini index.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are ahead of Bangladesh while Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bhutan are far behind it in tackling inequality.
The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution like levels of income.
Gini coefficients of zero expresses ‘perfect equality’ while a Gini coefficient of one expresses maximal inequality among values.
According to the report, Bangladesh has Gini coefficient of 0.31 while Bhutan is on the top with 0.36 Gini coefficient.
India’s Gini coefficient is 0.32 and Afghanistan’s 0.25.
The report said 40 percent of Afghanistan’s marginalised poor people own 23 percent of the country’s total assets, which is the highest among the South Asian countries.
The rate is 22 percent in Pakistan while its nearly 21 percent in Bangladesh followed by India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Total amount of assets the 40 percent poor of the South Asian countries own is relatively satisfactory, according to the report. It added that labour mobility in these countries is also fairly satisfactory.
According to the report, the earning inequality at all counties of the region was not increasing or decreasing at the same rate.
Currently, inequality rates are down in Maldives and Bhutan while it is stable in Bangladesh. The increasing rates are different in India and other countries.
About Bangladesh, the report said investments in health and education sectors are increasing, but they were inadequate. It suggested increasing the investment to boost facilities for ordinary citizens to reduce inequality.
It said GDP and revenue ratio of the South Asian region is smallest compared with other parts of the world and this is a major challenge for the countries of the region.
The report suggested that these countries make structural reforms in different sectors including food and energy as far as subsidy is concerned.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal was the chief guest at the report launch while Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman was the special guest.
Former adviser to the caretaker government AB Mirza Azizul Islam, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Research Director Binayak Sen and Dhaka University Professor MM Akash also spoke at the function.
The planning minister said the Seventh Five-Year Plan would contain directions not only for five years, but also for the period until 2041.
“Dreams of every citizen will be reflected in it,” Kamal claimed.
“We’ll continue our allocation for education, health and social security sectors. Besides that, we will ensure that tax-GDP ratio stands at 16 or 17 percent,” he added.
He said presently the rate was 13 percent.