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Missing Billionaires in Bangladesh 

by Violet Dawson
0 comment

A small African economy called Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) which is 100 times smaller than Bangladesh has a billionaire emerging from it. 

According to a report released in the 2022 World’s Billionaires list by Forbes, There are 2669 billionaires and not one of them belongs to Bangladesh. Despite the economic growth of Bangladesh there has been no billionaire that has made it to the list, this makes the whole world question or stop wondering what is going on. If the country has progressed as shown to the world then the question arises of where are the billionaires with the increasing GDP and development in the country. A small African economy called Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) which is 100 times smaller than Bangladesh has a billionaire emerging from it. 

A study indicated a 14.3% increase annually in the number of individuals that hold a net worth that exceeds $5 million. This number surpasses Vietnam which was ranked second with a growth rate of 13.2%. Further the reports suggest that Bangladesh in the next five years, will move up to being one of the top five fastest-growing economies with an increasing 11.4% for high-net worth individuals. A research firm based in New York has identified Bangladesh as the global leader in wealth growth from the year 2012 to 2019. 

Considering country’s growing economy, the country should have had a billionaire at this point as it remains the fastest growing economies in Asia. The country maintained its GDP and rose up irrespective of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the twin crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As Bangladesh’s economy grows, income inequality is also expanding quickly, suggesting that a small number of people are holding a disproportionate amount of wealth. In specification the Gini coefficient that can be used to calculate the income inequality in a country in Bangladesh it rose from 0.482 in 1016 from 0.458 in 2010 and is likely to further increase more. Furthermore, despite the economic downturn during COVID-19, the Bank reports that the number of millionaire accounts (in Tk) increased by 13,881 in 2021 alone. 

All of these facts makes one question – If Bangladesh is really this prosperous, why are there no billionaires here?

On the contrary there is an argument that suggests that there are many billionaires in the country but their wealth is stored and hidden in real estate and many offshore accounts. 11 Bangladeshis were named in the Pandora Papers. Confirming the argument that there is a large sum of capital outflow and tax evasion in the country that makes it hard to estimate the wealth. Therefore lack of reporting wealth could contribute to Bangladesh’s billionaires to not be seen or included in the Forbes list.

Although tax evasion and money laundering could not be the only reasons. According to Forbes one should acquire $1 billion and more to be on the list which when converted to Bangladesh local currency it comes up to Tk8,600 crores. This gives out an alternate thought that there could be no Bangladeshis to have acquired that amount of wealth. Alongside, increased tax, slow adoption to technology and poor investment climate could be important factors. 

The US is the largest economy in the world and hence is home to the highest number of 735 billionaires in the world. Similarly, China has 539, India has 166, Germany has 134 and many more. All these countries take up the top most position on the Forbes list with the most billionaires. The list not only includes billionaires from countries with the biggest GDP or economy but as much smaller economies as well. Hong Kong has 67 billionaires with a GDP similar to Bangladesh. Similarly, Taiwan’s nearly twice the size of Bangladesh’s economy and has 51 billionaires.

In fact, Bangladesh has a GDP similar or larger than all of the following countries, Columbia has 03, Czech Republic – 08, Egypt – 06, Philippines – 20, Singapore – 27 and some more. Therefore, the fact that there are no billionaires in Bangladesh cannot be explained by the size of the economy.

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