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‘WEF policies fuelling poverty, inequalities’

Local News
File pic: SADC logo

THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) People’s Economic Forum says some policies by the World Economic (WEF) Forum are fuelling inequalities and have failed to address the profound and complex crises affecting the poor and marginalised in Africa.

The WEF brings together decision-makers from across society to work on projects and initiatives that deliver concrete and sustainable results and make a positive impact at all levels of society.

In a statement this week, the Sadc People’s Economic Forum said WEF policies have subjected marginalised groups to poverty, inequality and financial restraints.

The Sadc People’s Economic Forum was part of the Fight Inequality delegates who gathered in Zambia last week to commemorate the Global Week of Action Against Inequality.

They said the World Economic Forum’s influence on Sadc leaders has been a stumbling block for economic development in southern Africa.

“Firstly, it is important to put into perspective the undemocratic power and influence that the World Economic Forum has continued to yield over our leaders. Every year, the World Economic Forum sets the tone for formal decision-making and endorses the false narrative that places a blind faith in the power of markets to transform societies. In this regard, the World Economic Forum stands in the way of much needed transformation actions to address the profound and complex crisis affecting the poor and marginalised,” the Sadc People’s Forum statement reads.

“This tendency is reflected by the worrisome exclusion of the crisis of extreme inequality in the top 10 risks outlined in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks report. This is highly regrettable for the people of Sadc who are in the world’s most unequal region.”

They also accused WEF of contributing to capitalism, unfair distribution of wealth and concentration of wealth in the world’s richest minority individuals, which has exposed marginalised African societies to extreme poverty and inequality.

“Billionaire fortunes have increased by US$2,7 billion in the post-COVID-19 era. At least 1,7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages, putting many at risk of reduced standards of living, food security, heightened climate vulnerability and unmitigated violence. Indications are that 63% or US$23 trillion of all new wealth was captured by the richest 1% in the world, while 37% or US$16 million went to the rest of us. The prevalence of an economic system that facilitates the over-concentration of wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the many is a key driver of extreme inequality around the globe,” they said.

The Sadc People’s Forum also called for the introduction of wealth tax in poor countries, or the taxation of the world’s richest people to sustain the African region where resources are milked at the expense of African societies.

“Global indications are that a tax of up to 5% on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise US$1,7 trillion a year, enough to lift two trillion people out of poverty. This also holds true for the Sadc region where hundreds of millions are siphoned from our economies and stored in tax havens without any productive use for the people,” they said.

“The Sadc People’s Economic Forum therefore calls upon Sadc leaders to consider the imposition of redistributive taxation measures such as energy. Years of tax cuts for the richest and corporations have fuelled inequality, with the poorest countries paying higher tax rates than billionaires. Further imposition of a wealth tax will ensure that the poor are able to receive basic services that ensure dignity such as healthcare, education, employment and stronger communities.”

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