Survey: Bangladesh on a wrong economic track, say 70pc people

Almost 70 per cent of people believe that the country’s economic course has veered off track, while 84 per cent say the escalating commodity costs have taken a serious toll on their lives.

A joint survey by the Asia Foundation and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) revealed the scenario recently. The survey result was made public on the Asia Foundation’s website on Tuesday.

The survey, involving 10,240 respondents across 64 districts from November to January, underscored growing dissatisfaction with economic conditions and surging commodity prices. There were 160 respondents from the districts each, while 50 per cent of them were female.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organisation based in the United States. It works on good governance, women empowerment, gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment and climate action, and regional and international relations.

The BIGD is a research institution affiliated with BRAC University. The survey, titled ‘The State of Bangladesh’s Political Governance, Development, and Society: According to its Citizens’, was also conducted in 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

During the survey, the respondents were asked if they think Bangladesh has taken the right track in terms of economic issues.

Over 70 per cent respondents said the country is on the wrong track, while around 25 per cent saw the nation on the right track. Around 4 per cent of respondents said they are unaware of the issue, while 1 per cent refrained from expressing their views. 

The survey also incorporated the previous responses to the same query. In the 2019 survey, over 70 per cent of respondents believed the country was moving in the right economic direction, while only 28 per cent found it to be in the negative direction.

Here, a noticeable point is that the low-income group predominantly believe the economic trajectory to be on the wrong track.

The survey also sought to know the respondents’ views on political and social dimensions. Around 47 per cent respondents said Bangladesh is moving in the wrong direction politically, a rise by 16 notches from another survey findings in 2019. Nearly 31 per cent respondents said the same then.

On the flip side, some 39 per cent respondents asserted that Bangladesh is on the right political track, which was about 64 per cent during the 2019 survey.

Keeping a similar pace, social optimism has also waned, as only 57.5 per cent now  believe the country is on the right track socially, compared to 77 per cent in 2019.  Meanwhile, the perception of Bangladesh moving in the wrong social direction surged to 39 per cent this year, from 22 per cent in 2019. 

Biggest problem

Asked about the most pressing issue, some 44 per cent pointed to the cost of daily commodities ahead of all, while it was picked as the burning issue in 2019 by 33 per cent.

Some 11 per cent mentioned poor economic or business situations as the biggest problem, while the rate was 5 per cent in 2019. Around 10 per cent people believe unemployment or livelihood issues as the main problem, while the same was believed by 18 per cent people in 2019. 

Only 3 per cent of respondents found corruption as the biggest problem, while only 11 per cent people thought so in 2019.

Around 18 per cent pointed out some other issues as the main problems, while 4 per cent refrained from expressing their views. 

Commodity price 

A resounding 84 per cent noted severe adverse effects of high commodity prices on their lives, contrasting with a mere 1 per cent reporting minimal impact. Besides, some 13 per cent of respondents claimed to have been affected moderately by the high commodity prices. 

Still, some 2 per cent of respondents said they felt no impact of commodity price hikes. 

Dominance of one party 

A striking 72 per cent strongly or mostly agreed with the statement – one can observe a dominant role of one party in politics, or governance –, a decrease from 86 per cent  in 2019.

Some 55 per cent viewed the dominant party’s role negatively, a notable surge from 38 per cent in 2019, while positive perceptions dropped to 36 per cent from 59 per cent in 2019.

No improvement

Selim Raihan, executive director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), said there is no way to disagree with what has come up in the survey. A SANEM survey also found a similar picture. 

He said it is normal for the people to express the perception as the economic indicators were on the downward trend during the survey.

Referring to the situation of economy and inflation, Selim Raihan said, “I still believe there has been no improvement in the areas of concern.”

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