If an individual earns more than one US dollar of income, that does not mean the country has become poverty-free. Additionally, Bangladesh's poverty alleviation indicators are flawed, say economists.
"We should sort out our own standards in line with global standards. Global poverty indicators give a misreading about us in terms of our basic needs and expenditures," economist Dr Binayak Sen said on Wednesday.
A discussion was held on Dr Akbar Ali Khan's book "Daridrer Orthonity: Otit Bortoman Bhobissat" (which translates as "Economics of Poverty: Past, Present and Future") at the Policy Research Institute (PRI) in the capital.
Dr Binayak Sen said government statistics fail to portray the real picture of society that stems from growing inequalities in it.
Dr Akbar Ali Khan said, "A person with more than one dollar per day does not belong to the poor category. However, this is not appropriate as people cannot meet their basic needs with that daily income. It is just a wrong theory."
"Life expectancy — one of the poverty measurement indicators — will have to be compared with the current world scenario," he said.
"The government's poverty-free publicity compared to different countries is totally false. It is also wrong that the country is a model of economic development as average GDP is below nine. Achieving a sustainable economy is impossible with poor infrastructure and GDP below 10," Dr Akbar Ali Khan added.
Dr Zaidi Sattar, chairman of the PRI, said that income inequality has become a crisis in Bangladesh. Poverty eradication will be questionable if the government fails to address income inequality. Poverty alleviation without reducing inequality also contradicts the global poverty eradication model.
Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said, "It is not acceptable to declare the country poverty-free without having achieved the Sustainable Development Goals. Bangladesh performs below standard compared to the developed countries in achieving the SDGs."
"The country's achievements towards nutrition, child growth, access to water and sanitation, and education, in line with the SDGs, are poor," she commented.
Dr Farasuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said, "The country lacks rule of law, however, no country with similar GDP growth to ours, performs better in this area."
"We have to increase the number of small and medium entrepreneurs to reach our goal," he said.
Motiur Rahman, Editor of the national daily Prothom Alo, said, "We want to eradicate poverty and do something for the next generation. Dr Akbar Ali Khan's book was published by our publication inspired by this spirit."
PRI Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur and other economists were also present at the programme.