Nigeria is the least among 157 countries on social spending, tax and labour rights.
This was contained in a report released on Tuesday at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meeting, holding in Bali, Indonesia.
The report titled “Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2018 (CRI)” shows that Nigeria’s position in the ranking has remained constant for two years in a row.
The CRI was developed by a United Kingdom-based charity Oxfam Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM) and Development Finance International.
Among 157 countries, ranked in terms of their commitment to reducing inequality, Nigeria took the last position at 157.
The ranking was done based on three major indicators – social spending, tax and labour rights. These indicators are the critical areas necessary to reduce the inequality gap.
According to CRI, an increase in the number of labour rights violations and the social spending deterioration over the past year has caused Nigeria’s position to remain stagnant. It added that Nigeria performed low with regards to respect for women in the workplace and the enforcement of gender rights.
“One in 10 children in Nigeria does not reach their fifth birthday, and more than 10 million children do not go to school while sixty per cent of these children are girls,” the report said.
The index is topped by Denmark, based on its high and progressive taxation, high social spending and good protection of workers.
Among the emerging economies, China was ranked 81st on the list, Brazil 39th and Russia 50th. Regarding China, the report said it “spends more than twice as much of its budget on health than India, and almost four times as much on welfare spending, showing a much greater commitment to tackling the gap between rich and poor.”
Matthew Martin, Development Finance International’s director, said, “what’s most striking is how clearly the index shows us that combating inequality isn’t about being the wealthiest country or the one of the biggest economy.
“It’s about having the political will to pass and put into practice the policies that will narrow the gap between the ultra-rich and the poor,” he said.
The report noted that inequality slows economic growth, undermines the fight against poverty and increases social tensions. A part of the report read: “Government spending on health, education and social protection is woefully low and often subsidizes the private sector. Civil society has consistently campaigned for increased spending.”
It also cited other countries that have taken strong steps to tackle inequality in the past year. Ethiopia, although at the 131st place, has the sixth highest level of education spending in the world. Chile, at 35th, increased its rate of corporation tax and Indonesia, at 90th, has increased its minimum wage and spending on health, the report noted.
Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director said that inequality traps people in poverty. “We see babies dying from preventable diseases in countries where healthcare budgets are starved for funding, while billions of dollars owed by the richest are lost to tax dodging.”
The report recommended that all countries should develop national inequality action plans to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on reducing inequality.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.