THE new year has always been an occasion to look back into the past year and to look forward to what the future has in store. Yet it has become difficult to look back into 2017, without feeling bad about it as the year was mostly marked by rising income gap, poor job creation rate, inefficient resources distribution, poor ratio of private investments to the gross domestic product, increased illicit capital flow, slump in export and goods price spiral, as New Age reported on Sunday. While an inefficient distribution of resources and stagnancy in the ratio of private investments to the gross domestic product have remained major challenges for the government, illicit capital flow arrested productive capacity in the year. While inequality and unemployment kept growing, the fiscal management had been in disarray and goods prices shoot through the roof, the annual average reduction in overall poverty, as measured by the upper poverty line, declined to 1.3 percentage points in 2010–2016 from 1.7 percentage points in 2005–2010. The government’s role in arresting spiralling food prices, to keep them within the rich of ordinary people, vis-à-vis the average food inflation increasing to 6.89 per cent, in October, has also come to be questioned.
An ominous increase in the Gini coefficient, which is used to gauge income inequality, reached its highest-ever national level of 0.483 in 2016, which means that the rich have become richer and the poor poorer. While the growth of the agricultural sector declined to 3.40 per cent in the financial year 2017, continuing from a decline to 4.46 per cent in the financial year 2011 after an increase by 5.50 per cent in the financial year 2006, the growth of the industrial sector remained stagnant 10.50 per cent in the financial year 2017, with 9.02 per cent in the financial year 2011 and 9.80 per cent in the financial year 2006. This all have strained the national economy, contrary to the government’s growth narrative that the state of people’s living has improved. This all, in effect, in other words, speaks of the government’s indifference to people’s sufferings. And this is also an aberration from the spirit of Bangladesh’s war for national independence that promised ‘equality, justice and human dignity’ for all. The government may have achieved something in one area but it has come to be overshadowed — and, thus, rendered less effective — by what it has failed to achieve in other areas.
It is, therefore, time for the government to make some corrections in its course so that the nation can prosper and a just society emerges, to the letter and in spirit of the promises of the independence war. The government must take up, in earnest and early, phased initiatives, focused on short-, medium- and long-term remedies, to overcome these weaknesses in the new year. If the situation as it has been in 2017 continues even in 2018, it will only severely impede the rate of the growth of the national economy and hurt both the people and the government in a bad manner.
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