This means the poorest Ghanaians are subsidizing the living standards of the richest in society.
Madam Harriet Agyekum, the Senior Programmes Officer of SEND Ghana, said this at a press conference held on Tuesday in Accra.
She said according to the Oxfam International and Development Finance International’s first ever West Africa Commitment to Reducing Inequality(CRI) Index 2019, Ghana and other West African governments are the least committed to reducing inequalities in Africa.
Madam Agyekum said West African citizens are living under governments that were only half as committed to reducing inequality, as their counterparts in Eastern and Southern Africa.
“Overall, Ghana ranks 4th in West Africa in CRI index. In Africa, Ghana ranks 29th out of 41 countries ranked by CRI index,” she said.
Madam Agyekum said while there would always be some differences in income, the huge inequalities “we see” today are the result of a rigged economic system, which has enabled a small minority to amass huge fortunes through political capture, monopoly, cronyism and inheritance.
The amount of wealth held in Africa rose by 13 percent between 2007 and 2017, and the West African countries that recorded the largest increases in wealth were Cote d’Ivoire by 43 per cent, Ghana by 39 per cent and Nigeria by 19 per cent, she said.
“While these increases in national wealth presented an enormous opportunity to improve the lives of many, much of it has unfortunately benefited only a selected few, and much has been hidden away offshore and untaxed,” said Madam Agyekum.
She mentioned tax evasion, corruption, under funding of the agricultural sector, and under taxing corporations and the wealthy, as some of the causes of extreme inequality in wealth distribution in Ghana and some other West African countries.
“It is time for West African governments to act decisively by promoting progressive taxation, boosting social spending, strengthening labour market protection, investing in agriculture, and strengthening land rights for small holder farmers,” Mrs Agyekum said.
She continued, “we can only beat poverty by fighting against inequality, and we call on our government and West African governments to lead the fight.”
Professor (Prof) Godfred Bokpin, an Economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana-Legon, said the stability of the society could be fully guaranteed, if societal inequalities were well addressed.
He said for this to be achieved, social spending has to be efficient and productive, whilst the revenue net has to be expanded.
Prof Bokpin said taxation had to be efficient and couched in a manner that addressed societal inequality by bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, instead of aggravating it.