THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF POLICY RESPONSE TO COVID-19: THE CASE OF BANGLADESH

Siddiqur R. Osmani, Muhammad Siddiquee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper examines the response of the Government of Bangladesh to COVID-19 from a political economy perspective. We argue that the support package implemented by the government had a distinct bias that went against the interests of the poorer segments of the society but conformed neatly with the government’s quest for political legitimacy. Our analysis of the support package makes a distinction between protection-orientation and growth-orientation. Protection-orientation refers to the presence of programs that intervene directly to protect the poor households and individuals who faced the threat of hunger after losing their livelihoods during the lockdown. Growth-orientation refers to the presence of programs whose proximate impact would be on the revival of economic growth through enterprise support; any impact on the distressed households would be indirect – in so far as growth revival may lead to the revival of livelihoods as well. Our analysis finds that the economic support package designed and implemented by the Government of Bangladesh was heavily biased towards growth-orientation to the relative neglect of protection-orientation, with seriously adverse consequences for the well-being of the people. The paper contends that the rationale of this bias resides in the realm of political economy of governance. Specifically, we argue that growth-orientation was an act of deliberate choice dictated by what the present regime perceives to be the foundations of its political legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Asian and African Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19, Bangladesh, Political Economy, Social Security, Economic Growth

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