Tackling inequality

A global index notes that countries like South Korea, Namibia and Uruguay are taking strong steps to reduce inequality.

09 November 2018 | Local News

Namibia has been ranked highly on an index that shows the commitment of countries to reduce inequality.

It was not only ranked 32nd out of 157 countries, but also ranked second in sub-Saharan Africa. Only South Africa received a higher score than Namibia.

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index produced by Development Finance International and Oxfam, and measures the commitment of governments across the globe to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

The index is based on a new database of indicators, covering 157 countries, which measures government action on social spending, tax and labour rights - three areas found to be critical in reducing the inequality gap.

The index notes that countries like South Korea, Namibia and Uruguay are taking strong steps to reduce inequality.

However, it says countries such as India and Nigeria are doing very badly overall, as is the United States, among the rich countries of the world. It said Namibia has very high levels of inequality, but remains strongly committed to reducing them.

“Others, like Nigeria, have high levels of inequality and are failing to do anything about it,” the report said.

According to the index, Namibia remains one of the highest-ranked African countries in the index and is fifth among middle-income countries.

“It is a good example of the difference between a country's CRI ranking and traditional measures of inequality.

“Despite being one of the most unequal countries in the world, its high CRI score reflects the commitment of the Namibian government to reducing inequality, particularly through its high levels of social spending (with secondary education free for all students) and some of the most progressive taxation policies.

“Its commitment has been recognised by economist Joseph Stiglitz and others, and although inequality remains very high, it has been continually reducing inequality since 1993, and is no longer the world's most unequal country,” the index noted.

Namibia is known for its extreme income inequality, which is one of the highest in the world, despite the country's endowment with abundant natural resources, good infrastructure, a vibrant democracy, peace and stability

The index added that since the 2017 CRI, the Namibian government has increased spending on social protection and has also increased the minimum wage substantially, and a new study has shown that its taxation and spending policies are reducing inequality significantly.

Namibia was ranked 27th for social spending, 29th for taxation policies and 56th for labour rights.

However, the report pointed out that no country is doing particularly well, and even those at the top of the listings have room for improvement.

Furthermore, 112 of the 157 countries included in the index are doing less than half of what the best performers are managing to do.

According to the report, the poorest half of the world's population has received just 1% of the total increase in global wealth, while the top 1% has received 50%.



ELLANIE SMIT

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