Sustainable solutions needed to quell rising socio-economic disparities across the world
NAIROBI, 24 January 2018– As the elite in the world of finance converge for the annual World Economic Forum, people are gathering at fora across the world to demand for sustainable solutions to rising levels of inequality.
Recent studies have shown that in 2017, 1% of the population made twice as much as the bottom 50%. This means that 3.5 billion people account for only 2.7% of the world’s wealth, with a majority of them in developing countries across Africa and Asia. Inequality in sub-Saharan Africa currently stands at a rate of 55% (World Inequality Report, 2018). With a majority of this population being under 35 years of age, the youth bear the greatest brunt of the disproportionate distribution of wealth and access to basic amenities.
Those leading the campaigns such as the Fight Inequality Alliance say that a lot more needs to be done to curb these unprecedented levels of inequity, from both social and economic perspectives. Members of the Alliance such as Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) are engaging in a series of week-long activities from January 19 to 26 to shine a spotlight on the rising inequality crisis and demand for a more equal society. The theme of the week this year is ‘End the Age of Greed‘ and will be a global show of unity against the break-down of the global socio-economic structures that has gradually led to a widening of the gap between the rich and poor.
Nester Ndebele, a community activist from South Africa, remarked: “These mining companies claim to bring development but they make a fortune while leaving our land barren, our air dangerously polluted, and our communities ripped apart. Women bear the brunt of this. They claim it is worth it for the energy they provide but the wires go over our homes with no connection. The politicians need to stop listening to the mining companies’ fancy speeches and hear from us instead.”
The Paradise Papers of 2017 served showed just how the complicity of big players in the global financial system has served to fuel the systemic inequity and corruption, particularly in Africa. This has led to the siphoning off of the continent’s resources and an unprecedented rise in levels of inequality. The November exposé pointed out six powerful politicians and businesspersons in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda who have taken advantage of the legal loopholes in their respective tax regimes to acquire and move wealth from their own home countries to offshore tax havens in order to limit their liability to the tax authorities
“There is a direct relationship between the wealth in Antwerp and the poverty in Lubumbashi. Why do multinationals that invest in developing countries declare huge profits in their countries and losses in ours? We have rising inequality because the rich are determining what governments should do. The solutions to the inequality crisis will not come from the same elites that caused the problem. The people living on the frontlines of inequality are the key to the radical change that is needed,” said Alvin Mosioma, TJNA’s Executive Director.
- The Paradise papers confirm the findings of the High Level Panel on IFFs of harmful business practices that undermine the integrity of institutions, laws, and policies aimed at improving tax revenue collection in Africa. Africa loses USD 80 billion annually through IFFs.
- TJNA continues to advocate on the use of tax to combat rising inequality, including provision of access to human rights, especially by vulnerable groups such as children.
- The Fight Inequality Alliance is a growing group of leading international and national non-profit organisations, human rights campaigners, women’s rights groups, environmental groups, faith-based organisations, trade unions, social movements and other civil society organisations that is committed to building a global movement to counter the excessive concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a small elite and achieve a just, equal and sustainable world.
- The World Economic Forum is taking place from 23 to 26 January 2018 in Davos, Switzerland. The purpose of the meeting is to ‘rededicate leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to improve the state of the world’. The programme, initiatives and projects of the meeting are focused on creating a ‘Shared Future in a Fractured World’.