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Issue 06

July 2019

The average annual GDP growth rate of Bangladesh has been 6.6% over the past decade and reaching a high of just above 8% in 2018-19. However, certain aspects of this rapid growth have been called into question. The cover article of this issue deals with one main concern, if the benefits of growth are reaching the people in low-income groups. This is one fundamental determining factor in pro-poor economic growth and in recent times discussions have run rife suggesting that benefits of growth bypassing the poor and vulnerable groups.

One article in this issue argues the changes in the new VAT act could result in a complicated system where consumers might be hurt with high prices and SMEs that are a significant stakeholder in the garment sector could be harmed through their affected supply chains.

The last significant tax reform in Bangladesh took place in 1991. Only 1.3% of tax revenue comes from personal income tax while the top 5% of the population owns 25% of the national income. There is an article in this issue which emphasizes the need for a tax reform to ensure effective tax collection and revenue mobilization.

One of the articles of this issue evaluates the budget by assessing its policies on trade. After all, an open and tariff-free market for trade can be a catalyst for high growth and creation of jobs. It would also protect the consumers from bearing the brunt of the highly protective tariff regime.

In recent times, India has made dramatic improvements in its Doing Business Ranking. Are there any lessons to be learnt from it for Bangladesh? One article in this issue highlights key reform initiatives launched by India.

This issue also includes two other articles: one relating to digital industrialization in a rapidly changing world where data is so critical for business development and promoting export competitiveness; while the final article investigates if investing in social protection is as important as investing in infrastructure and capital goods.