Rich countries and privately-owned companies are enjoying most of the benefits and profits of globalisation. This process needs to be stopped in order for South Asia to overcome its deprivation and people's tax money should be spent on the welfare of the people, experts have said.
They stated this on Saturday morning at a webinar on "The Situation of Inequality in South Asia and Things to Do."
The South Asia Alliance for Poverty Alleviation's (Saape) Bangladesh chapter, Fight Inequality Alliance, Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha (BNPS), INCIDIN Bangladesh, Voice, Janaudyog, and Oxfam in Bangladesh jointly organised the webinar.
At the event, economist Dr Nazneen Ahmed said, "The people of South Asia, including Bangladesh, are victims of discrimination irrespective of: race, religion, caste, tribe, or gender. This is not an accident. Those who are politically and economically powerful have developed the kind of economic ideas and systems that are dominated by the market and money."
"As a result of these issues, inequality in Bangladesh and South Asia has been on the rise for the last 30 years, which has intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic," said Dr Nazneen.
AKM Mustaque Ali, executive director of INCIDIN Bangladesh, said effective steps should be taken to: reduce the gap between rich and poor, reduce wage inequalities, reduce discrimination against women, mobilise domestic tax revenue, and stop unfair tax exemptions for rich people and companies.
He added that it is necessary to invest in reviving the public healthcare sector, education, water and sanitation as well as build a responsible state and ensure social security for all.
SM Monzur Rashid, head of policy, advocacy, campaigns and communications at Oxfam, said "The government needs to pay special attention to the planning and implementing strategies on controlling markets and supply chains to ensure adequate food supply for at least the next two years to address the Covid-19 situation and reduce inequality."
He also said, "It is important for the government to take steps to ensure that activities and policies are guided by food security experts."
Former president of Bangladesh Medical Association Dr Rashid-e-Mahbub said, "The Covid-19 situation has led to a catastrophe in the healthcare situation in South Asia, including Bangladesh, and there is uncertainty about access to healthcare for the poor."
"In addition to creating uncertainty about how they will get services if they are infected with the novel coronavirus, the situation of those who have not had Covid-19 but need other emergency healthcare has become even more critical. To cope with this situation, the provision of a free Covid-19 vaccine and necessary materials must be ensured for all to ensure all types of health services," he said.
BNPS Executive Director Rokeya Kabir said, "The virus, which has caused a pandemic around the world, has a huge impact on the way people live. Its impact on the economy and health system is being observed. Poor people are getting poorer. They are living in inhumane conditions."
Leaders of ethnic minority communities, leaders of the Krishak-Shramik Trade Union, intellectuals, cultural personalities, teachers, journalists, writers, students, and people from different walks of life also took part in the event.