Dhaka, Jan 5, 2013: Large population and corruption are the main obstacles to Bangladesh’s economic progress, according to a survey of Gallup, a Washington-based opinion poll surveyor.
In the survey, 60 per cent of the respondents identified population and 56 per cent saw corruption as major barriers to the country’s economic advancement. Poorly qualified population, crime and lack of security were the other factors inhibiting the progress, said Gallup.
A major portion of the respondents think the economy performs either “only fair” or “good”, and it’s getting better with the improvement in their living standards, said the recently published “Insights South Asia—Bangladesh Survey 2012”.
Thirty-eight per cent rated their current economic condition as “only fair” and 37 per cent as “good”. Twenty per cent termed it “poor” and only 3 per cent rated it “excellent.”
Gallup in collaboration with South Asia Democratic Forum conducted the survey through 1,000 face-to-face interviews on 13 broad issues in Bangladesh’s six divisions.
The topics include economy, living standards, the role of religion in political system, fight against corruption, migration, security threats of South Asia, connectivity, regional cooperation and obstacles to establish closer ties in the region.
The interviews were done in May 2012. Thirty per cent of the respondents were from Dhaka division, 22 per cent from Rajshahi and 18 per cent from Chittagong. The rest 30 per cent interviewees were from Khulna, Sylhet and Barisal divisions.
According to the survey, 62 per cent of the respondents think living standard of their families had improved in the past five years.
Twenty per cent said living standard got worse and 19 per cent said it “remained the same”.
Young respondents, especially between 15 and 24 years, held a more optimistic view of their current and past standard of living, said Gallup citing that 65 per cent of the 15-24 years olds believed their families’ standard of living had “improved” in the last five years.
Replying to which South Asian country had the biggest impact on Bangladesh’s economy, 59 per cent mentioned India.
Gallup said India and Bangladesh, with other South Asian countries, have taken a number of initiatives over the years to remove trade barriers such as tariffs and some non-tariff restrictions at the unilateral, bilateral, and regional levels.
“Therefore, as the bilateral trade relationship continues to grow, India will have an even greater impact on Bangladesh’s economy,” it said.
Forty-five per cent said other than the South Asian countries, the USA had the biggest impact on their economic conditions.
Sixty per cent choose education as the most important issue in their personal lives. Religion and spirituality came second followed by family, work and living condition.
On corruption, 57 per cent said they were happy with the government’s initiatives to fight corruption while 39 per cent were dissatisfied with the government initiatives. And 6 per cent did not answer the question.
“More likely to be dissatisfied with the government’s efforts to fight corruption were those with university education or higher and those living in large cities,” said Gallup.
In the survey, a vast majority of respondents — 85 per cent—rejected violence as a means to resolve conflicts within Bangladesh. Only 9 per cent favoured violence as a way to resolve conflict.
Thirty-two per cent wanted religious principles to be the most influential factor in political decisions. Twenty per cent said religion should have a major influence on the political system together with other factors, followed by 16 per cent who thought religion should have only a minor influence.
But 17 per cent of the respondents wanted a completely secular political system.
The respondents also pointed to terrorism as the number one threat to regional security in South Asia. Religious fundamentalism and rivalry between India and Pakistan also pose major threats to regional security, according to Gallup.
Respondents saw Pakistan as the biggest security threat to regional security. India came second. Among countries outside the region, the USA was perceived as the greatest threat to security in the region.
“But respondents with higher levels of education were more likely to see India as a major threat to security than were those with lower educational attainment,” said Gallup.
On migration, 59 per cent confirmed that they would like to continue their lives in Bangladesh. The rest expressed willingness to migrate to other countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, the USA and India, temporarily or permanently, if given the opportunity.
In the survey, a large majority of the respondents acknowledged the importance of regional cooperation. Fifty-five per cent identified historic animosities and 46 per cent pointed to arms race between India and Pakistan as the two major obstacles to regional cooperation.