…decries widening inequality gap
By Etuka Sunday
Oxfam report has shown that cracking down on tax avoidance could save
developing countries like Nigeria an estimated $170 billion a year.
Oxfam in its media roundtable held yesterday in Abuja decried continuous widening inequality gap between the rich and poor in the society.
It said: “82 percent of the wealth created last year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest saw no increase in their wealth.
“The inequality crisis is out of control. Our broken economies enable a wealthy elite to accumulate vast wealth while hundreds of millions of people are scraping a living on poverty pay,” it said.
Declaring the meeting open, the Acting Oxfam Country Director, Mr Constant Tchona commended the federal government for policy on tax revenue, saying, that if properly implemented would solve the problems associated with tax.
Mr Tchona said Oxfam attended Davos Meeting to present the case of widening inequality gap in the world, adding that while the rich are avoiding tax payment, the poor are burdened with multiple taxation.
Oxfam listed retrogressive taxation, poor budgeting system, poor resource management; capital/recurrent, poor policy implementation, prohibitive cost of governance, elite capture and favouritism as drivers of inequality in the country.
Oxfam said, Billionaire wealth has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent. The number of billionaires rose at an unprecedented rate of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.
It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.
It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016.
Oxfam’s report outlines the key factors driving up rewards for shareholders and corporate bosses at the expense of workers’ pay and conditions. These include the erosion of workers’ rights; the excessive influence of big business over government policy-making; and the relentless corporate drive to minimize costs in order to maximize returns to shareholders.
It said, “Women workers often find themselves off at the bottom of the heap. Across the world, women consistently earn less than men and are usually in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. By comparison, 9 out of 10 billionaires are men.
“Oxfam is calling for governments to ensure our economies work for everyone and not just the fortunate few: Limit returns to shareholders and top executives, and ensure all workers receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life. For example, in Nigeria, the legal minimum wage would need to be tripled to ensure decent living standards. Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers.
“At current rates of change, it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and employment opportunities between women and men. Ensure the wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance, and increase spending on public services such as healthcare and education.”
Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school. Results of a new global survey commissioned by Oxfam demonstrates a groundswell of support for action on inequality.
It said, of the 70,000 people surveyed in 10 countries, nearly two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.