The number of bank accounts with more than Tk 1 crore in deposits has remained as high as 82,625 at the end of March this year amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country on March 8.
However, the number of such accounts witnessed a fall of paltry 1 per cent or 1,214 in the January-March quarter compared with the October-December period.
Along with the decline in the number of accounts, deposits in those accounts also observed a downward trend in the first quarter of 2020.
The deposits in such accounts dropped by 2 per cent, or Tk 11,119 crore, to Tk 5,15,878 crore at the end of March this year against Tk 5,26,997 crore in deposits in those accounts three months ago, as per the Bangladesh Bank data.
Considering the number of bank accounts in the banking sector, such accounts represent 0.075 per cent of the country’s 11.05 crore bank accounts.
These accounts constitute a tiny portion of the country’s total bank accounts but hold almost half of the total deposits in the banks.
However, their share in the total Tk 12,10,498-crore bank deposits dropped a bit to 42.62 per cent at the end of March this year against 49.44 per cent of Tk 10,65,952 crore three months ago.
The number of banks with more than Tk 1 crore in deposits and the deposits in those accounts have been on the rise for long.
Just in 2019, the number of such accounts increased to 83,839 against 75,563 in December 2018.
The fact that a significant portion of bank deposits are held by a small percentage of the population hinted that the rich were becoming richer and the poor poorer, raising concerns over possible social grievances and deterioration in the law and order situation.
According to the BB data, the number of accounts with deposits of Tk 1 crore has increased more than four times or by 62,989 in the last eleven years.
The number of such accounts was 19,636 in March, 2009.
Since 2009, deposits in such bank accounts have increased by more than six times or Tk 4,36,011 crore from Tk 79,866 crore.
The number of such accounts was only five in 1972 and 47 in 1975.
The figure continued to grow and stood at 98 in 1980, 943 in 1990, 2,594 in 1996, 5,162 in 2001, 8,887 in 2006 and 19,163 at the end of 2008.
While a tiny section of people was in possession of almost half of the cash in the country’s banking sector, a large section of the remaining population struggled hard to survive following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The average income of the urban slum dwellers and the rural poor has dropped by more than 80 per cent following the coronavirus outbreak in the country, according to a joint survey of the Power and Participation Research Centre and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development.
An estimated 63 per cent of this population, including day labourers, bhangari (plastic) workers, restaurant workers, maids, transport workers, agriculture labourers, construction and factory workers, petty businessmen, shop assistants and rickshawpullers became economically inactive during the time, it said.
Some 40 per cent of the poor population and 35 per cent of the vulnerable non-poor have already reduced their food consumption to cope with the situation, the survey found.
Bangladesh’s current score on the Gini index is 495 which reflects the fact that the country’s rich people are becoming richer and the poor poorer.
A score of 0 on the Gini index represents perfect equality and 1 represents perfect inequality.