(London) The inaction of governments in the face of inequalities that have sharply increased since the pandemic is “shocking”, denounces the NGO Oxfam in a report published on Tuesday.
Posted at 7:48pm
They show that “the poorest and most vulnerable are hardest hit by the disease and its profound economic impact,” according to a statement accompanying the report.
The 2022 version of the Commitment to Reducing Inequalities Index (ERI, which measures the efforts of different countries around the world), released every two years, “clearly shows that most governments have not taken far-reaching concrete measures to curb this dangerous increase in inequality”. .
Worse, “while this is the worst public health emergency the world has seen in a century, half of low- and middle-income countries have cut their health spending during the pandemic,” and 70% of their spending on education, Oxfam denounces.
In addition, “despite huge tax shortfalls and huge wealth gains by the richest people and companies during the pandemic, 143 out of 161 countries have not increased taxation of the richest people, and 11 countries have even cut taxes for the most advantaged,” Oxfam continues.
Norway, the best student, tops the rankings, followed by Germany, Australia, Belgium and Canada.
The best-ranked countries are all developed countries, which have more resources for public policies to reduce inequalities, Oxfam argues.
Conversely, the “poor performers” are low-income countries severely affected by armed conflict and political instability, such as South Sudan, which is last in the ranking, or Nigeria, which is second to last.
“Among the emerging countries, there is one low-income country (Tajikistan thanks to a large increase in personal income tax collection) and four middle-income countries,” specifically Moldova, Oxfam said.
The countries with the greatest deterioration include the Seychelles and the Hong Kong Territory of China. “Eight of the 10 countries with the greatest deterioration experienced a collapse in tax revenues, mainly due to the pandemic,” Oxfam notes.
The NGO warns that by the end of the year, another 263 million people will have fallen into extreme poverty.
The NGO also points to the burden of debt servicing on poor countries, which hampers their fight against inequality.
She urges governments to act urgently at the risk of wasting a decade of efforts to narrow the wealth gap.
In particular, Oxfam recommends that governments “increase, not cut, social spending”, “protect workers’ rights and pay them wages that enable them to live above the poverty line”.
“Above all, they need to significantly increase taxes paid by the richest,” Oxfam concluded.
The UK has therefore been singled out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the latest measures unveiled by Liz Truss’ Conservative government, which has been accused of widening inequalities by cutting taxes on the wealthiest.
Last week Shell’s boss called for higher taxes on energy companies as a solution to the livelihood crisis sparked by rising energy costs since the start of the war in Ukraine.
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