Md Mazadul Hoque
While most Bangladeshis are working within the country for their livelihood and survival thereby, many are also going abroad to change their destiny as well as live a better life. In fact, low wages against labor prevailing within the country has in one sense compelled them to look for jobs abroad. But, income inequality among the people of all 64 districts of the country has increased discrimination within the society which is regarded as one of chief reasons why people in large numbers are so much keen to go to different demand-driven countries. It is known that a high income inequality is sure to affect the economy badly.
Though Bangladesh is lauded by Indian economist Nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen, and also World Bank, a Washington-based lender for social developments and upward growth trend in terms of GDP, income inequality here is indeed a curse for its economy. The economy must ensure equal purchasing power capacity of the people who live every nook and corner of the country. Otherwise, market structure might crumple. In recent times, income-inequality has been a key concern which is difficult to narrow down within the shortest time by the policymakers.
Nevertheless, thousands of workers, both male and female, have so far been sent to many countries, and their earning is contributing much to accelerating the pace of economic progress, and the country’s GDP growth rate is going to surpass many developed economies soon due to the onrush of foreign remittances. But, expatriates belonging to a few districts of Bangladesh are noticed to dominate the whole economy as remittance receivers in the areas concerned are now proving themselves highly stable, from economic point of, in the society. They are trying to establish themselves with their foreign earnings. Bargaining scenario while purchasing land, establishments and others has almost vanished in the districts where a good number of people stay abroad as expatriates, since the local wage-earners cannot compete with the high earners living abroad.
Truly speaking, hard-earned foreign remittance sent by workers is playing a vital role in bolstering the country’s economy, and the life standard of remittance beneficiaries is also developing in terms of purchasing power capacity than in the past time. But inequality in the society is being broadened that is bad for economy. Income inequality in the country creates increased poverty rate apart from raising other social problems and our economy is facing this for the past years. The gap is widening day by day. To be more specific the people belonging to the country’s northern region where availability of works are limited to lead one’s life have been lagging behind to enjoy a competitive life compared to others since they were not able to fly abroad in search of jobs in which their fortune awaits ensuring good life.
Moreover, this is a sad note that three hilly districts where a large number of tribal people are living through hardship still did not touch the soil of any foreign country to change their fate. The financially lagged people who could not manage to fly have to lead their life below par, and ultimately basic needs to survive are a far cry to them and purchasing capacity is completely narrowed. They never dream of having lunch, dinner in well-decorated luxurious restaurants, let alone visiting tourist places of home and abroad with their limited income which they earn within the country. Their children, unlike those of remittance senders, do not get qualitative education from their surrounding educational intuitions. It is a matter of grave concern that land prices in those areas concerned or living costs of remittance receivers’ zones catch one’s eye. The situation is worsening day by day, and if this trend continues, the prevailing discrimination will for sure be broadening in coming days when managing the economy will likely be too tough.
Ergo, the districts of northern region where “Monga”, a seasonal effect for unavailability of works, appears every year and the districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) do badly need sub-office of BMET to motivate overseas jobseekers. If required, necessassry trainings and supports for unskilled overseas-goers might be arranged locally with the assistance of BMET to promote their fate.
Moreover, the state should maintain a role to eradicate poverty from the country which would help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 through expanding BMET unit offices in all districts and upazilas especially in poverty-stricken areas from where low skilled labour force would come to know about work opportunities abroad in details and the aspirants would never get frightened to take the risk of flying in response to BMET located in their own towns.
It should be noted that the recent stories of increasing wealthy people here in the country compared to developed economies have been a concern for the economists and policymakers in terms of equal distribution of wealth among all. If we fail to do so, a possibility of famine is likely in any time. Once this country used to face frequent famines due to unequal distribution of food, not for unavailability of food. So, we must care about this crucial issue. So, with assistance of the government, overseas workers might be sent from all corners of the country to lead their life in a paralleled way.
It is already printed in half a dozen newspapers in the country that tendency of going abroad among female workers as domestic help is drastically fallen due to untold sufferings they faced earlier. The allegations on sexual abuse by the overseas employers have been born a negative mentality among the female workers. That must be recovered soon through deployment of a delegation in the unit offices of district and upazila level to turn the economy more growing by sending them.
But, those who want to fly looking for a link with terror activities should be produced before law and punishment must be awarded according to the degree of crimes they commit while staying abroad. Otherwise, labour hunting countries are likely to close their doors for us. State level friendly negotiations with European countries including two Asian nations – Japan and China – are required right now in regard to labour export issues where we still have less access to export manpower.
Mazadul Haque is a banker and can be reached at email@example.com