Oxfam report indicts Ghana over financial inequality

Ghana has ranked 12th in West Africa and 29th in Africa as a whole with regards to commitment to tackling inequality through public spending as measured by a Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI), according to a recent report released by Oxfam International in collaboration with its partners namely SEND Ghana and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition.

The CRI Index measures, compares and ranks Africa’s governments’ commitment to tackling inequality among its citizens based on three main indicators namely level of public spending – most especially on education, healthcare and social protection; taxation; and labour markets.

Regarding public spending, Ghana was behind fellow West African countries such as Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Gambia, Togo and others.

According to the Index, countries in West Africa are in general the least committed, among the various regional blocs, to reducing the level of inequalities among its people, trailing behind the remaining four regional blocs with respect to governments commitment to reducing inequality. Indeed, the report asserts that its citizens are living under governments that are only half as committed to reducing inequality as their counterparts in other regional blocs.

Ghana’s score and ranking on social spending indicates that the country’s commitment to invest the needed funds in key sectors of the economy namely healthcare, education, social protection and agriculture sectors appear to be low compared with many other African countries. The report further asserts that the poorest Ghanaians are subsidizing the living standards of the richest in the society.

The level of inequality between the rich and poor in the country is widening at an alarming rate, the report claims. It is estimated that one of the richest men in Ghana earns more in a month than one of the poorest women could earn in 1,000 years.

The Index indicates that within the last decade, the national wealth held in Africa increased by 13 percent. West African countries recorded the largest increases in wealth. For instance, Ghana’s and Nigeria’s national wealth within the period rose by 39 percent and 19 percent respectively. However, despite the increase this has not reflected in the lives of its people the report asserts.

However, regarding taxation, Ghana and Benin top with regards to progressive taxation in the sub-region. This implies that Ghana’s tax policies are comparatively more progressive than its neighbours in the region. Despite the comparative progressive tax system, the report noted that Ghana has not done enough to mobilise its tax revenues.

The report recommended the urgent need for Civil Society Groups to lead the fight against inequality to ensure the better living standards of its people.