Shall income inequality continue rising?
Abu Taher Khan writes for DOT :
Bangladesh’s graduation to a developing country from a least developed one is now much-discussed issue. Bangladesh’s per capita income has risen to USD1,610 which is Tk 136850.
Readymade garment is the largest labour sector after agriculture and the minimum wage for the apparel workers has been fixed at Tk 5300 albeit the reality is different.
Minimum wage for the tea workers has been fixed at Tk 1656. Of them, workers belonging to ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories earn much less and they are the majority.
There is a mismatch between the per capita income of the low-income group of people and the Gross National Income. In 2007, Bangladesh’s per capita income was USD 585 and the monthly per capita income of the apparel workers was USD 38.
After a gap of ten years, Bangladesh’s per capita income has tripled while the apparel workers’ wage has almost doubled. The rate of wage hike in other sectors is much lower. The scenario is largely same for the other low-income groups of people.
Now what does it mean by the rise of per capita income? It is abundantly clear that the wealthy are reaping the benefits of the rise in per capita income. Mainly due to labour exploitation, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will widen further in the coming days.
We tend to point to apparel sector while discussing the issue of labour exploitation. However, the reality is that other sectors are not immune from labour exploitation. Tea gradens and tea processing industry, rice mill, rubber industry, plastic industry and ship-breaking are the most sub-human sectors of our country where the workers earn less than Tk 2000 monthly. This is a point to ponder over.
It is very difficult to come out of the scenario of income inequality. This is also true that the inequality will continue rising if we cannot put a stop to it. The graduation to a developing country will prove meaningless if we cannot arrest the ever-increasing income inequality.
The writer is Director, Career Development Centre, Daffodil International University
The article was translated from bangla by Hossen Sohel