Introduce pro-people policy reforms
Amid dwindling economic prospects in Bangladesh, it is only natural that public confidence in the overall direction of the economy is dwindling, too. According to a countrywide survey jointly conducted by The Asia Foundation and the Brac Institute of Governance and Development, a whopping 70 percent of respondents believe that the economy is headed in the wrong direction. This comes at a time when we are bombarded with reports revealing the grim state of people's lives caused by the current economic turmoil, particularly the ever-increasing prices of essentials. With their purchasing power not increasing simultaneously, and with little policy initiative on the part of the government to address the situation, the majority of the people harbour a negative view of the economy.
The respondents in the survey cited various reasons for their perception, such as the high prices of products, scarcity of necessary goods, lack of employment opportunities, lower pay, etc. The resultant cost-of-living crisis has plunged many middle- and low-income families into severe financial hardship. Even the prices of once-affordable staple foods such as fish, eggs, poultry products, and potatoes – to name just a random few – have risen to such astronomical rates that people are having to cut back on consumption and elective care, among other things. The situation seems only to be getting worse by the day.
There are both external and internal influences contributing to the situation. Unfortunately, far from taking responsibility for the internal issues or taking measures to fix them, the standard government response so far has been to place the blame for spiralling commodity prices squarely on the Russia-Ukraine war. Interestingly, we have seen how prices of certain essentials have shot up even when their global prices have gone down. Needless to say, the government's defensive approach has only further eroded public trust in our economic foundations.
We, therefore, urge the government to stop making excuses and focus on improving the economy and market conditions through pro-people policy reforms. This, among other things, means stabilising prices urgently, increasing market regulation, and creating enough employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the ordinary people.