Inequality in income, asset and consumption grew faster along with deterioration in quality of economic management in the second half of the last decade, which also coincided with lack of political competition in the country, Centre for Policy Dialogue said on Sunday.
However, the performance of the economy, as a whole, was robust during the first half of the decade, CPD said at a press briefing held at BRAC Centre Inn in Dhaka.
CPD arranged the briefing to release its latest report titled the state of Bangladesh economy and upcoming national elections: priorities for electoral debates.
The private think-tank prepared the report under its Independent Review of Bangladesh’s Development covering the two tenures of the Awami League-led government in the backdrop of the upcoming national elections scheduled for December 30.
CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said that there was no doubt that the country experienced a significant economic development including achieving continuous higher growth, maintaining economic stability, expansion of physical infrastructure, education and healthcare facilities in the decade.
‘But, in the same time inequality grew faster, the quality of economic management in general deteriorated and efforts of the government for structural and policy reforms got slower in the second half of the decade, he said.
Inequality in every aspects like poor-rich and rural-urban increased in the period in parallel with economic development.
Curiously, there was lack in political completion at the same period in the country, he said.
‘The two developments took place at the same time but the issues need to be analysed if there is any link in cause and effect between them,’ he said replying to a question.
As CPD earlier said that decline in political competition was the major reason behind the low rate of competition in economic front, he added.
Debapriya said that new government would need to adopt a strategy to reduce inequality along with maintaining the economic growth.
CPD found that the rate of revenue-GDP ratio and implementation rate of development budget also declined in the period.
CPD said that political parties should address the second generation challenges like transforming quantitative economic development into qualitative one, ensuring inclusive economic growth and reduction in inequality in their election manifestos.
Providing quality education and health care services, employment for educated youth and cost effective implementation of development projects are some issues required more importance, it said, adding that the country had already met the first generation challenges like economic growth and basic infrastructure development.
Youth unemployment, particularly among educated youth, was a product of failing education system which failed to meet the demand of job market, it said.
Debapriya said that no government would be successful in addressing the challenges without a free environment for political competition, if citizens could not express their opinion without fear and institutions responsible for protecting democratic and human rights could not play their role.
Marginalised people also are deprived of their rights in absence of political competition, he noted.
In reply to a question, Debapriaya said that election expenditure forced the honest and qualified candidates out of the election and it turned into a constraint for democracy.
CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said that political parties should deliver their electoral promises with specific plans in their election manifestos on how they would address the second generation challenges of economy.
CPD executive director Fahmid Khatun said that economic issues did not yet get importance in the election manifestos of political parties.
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