Despite increasing per capita income, Bangladeshis remain poor

June 22nd, 2008 - 3:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 22 (Xinhua) Poverty in Bangladesh has been rising even as the country’s per capita income registered a 14 percent increase as compared to the figure in the last fiscal. According to the latest figures released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the per capita income of the country has increased from $523 to $599 in the fiscal year from July 2007 to June 2008.

The BBS said the pace of increase in per capita income has been rapid during the past five years but a large chunk of it is eroded by spiralling prices.

The prices of rice, Bangladeshis’ staple food, have doubled or tripled over the past one year.

Saja Khan, a rickshaw puller, told Xinhua Sunday he works 12 hours a day and earns about 6,000 taka (about $86) per month, but with the price hike of food, he can’t save any money.

Moniur, a driver working for a foreign company, said he could support a family of three with his salary a year ago. But despite a hike in his salary he found it difficult now to make both ends meet.

The country’s think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said in a recent study that an additional 2.5 million households have fallen below the poverty line during the last 15 months since January 2007 due to income erosion.

According to the CPD, the gross income of poor people decreased by 36.7 percent due to price hike of food and inflationary pressure by this time.

Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed, a noted economist, was quoted by local English daily the New Nation Sunday as saying: “The GDP has been growing. Average income of people is also increasing. But that increased income is going mainly to a section’s pocket while poor people are being marginalised to afford soaring foodstuff.”

“The divide between rich and poor is also widening with it,” he said.

According to a government report released recently, the poor and people in low-income section spend nearly 87 percent of their food budget on rice and the rest on protein and vegetables, giving rise to widespread malnutrition.

Bangladesh lost huge grains, particularly paddy, due to two floods and cyclone Sidr last year. Besides, higher rice price on international market also cast adverse impact on the country’s domestic market.

In order to help the poor people manage the situation, the government opened fair price shops in capital Dhaka run by paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles since September last year.

The fair price shops had been closed after the government stopped subsidizing rice sold at these outlets early this month in the wake of high price of foodstuff.

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