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“Economic inequality is stopping growth in developing countries”

-says Country Director IBIS Ghana

 November 30, 2016 By Emmanuel Okyne (Intern)

Country Director of IBIS Ghana yesterday stated that economic inequality was impeding growth in the West Africa sub- region.

Tijani Hamza was speaking during the opening ceremony of a two -day seminar organised by the West Africa Civil Society Forum at Kona Lodge on National Planning Fiscal Policies to Tackle Inequality in Sierra Leone.

He said most African governments were not collecting as much tax as they could, while the average tax –to Gross Domestic Product had risen from 18% to 21 % in the last 10 years.

He stated that their report on fiscal policies looked in –depth at the record of Sierra   Leone on government efforts to reduce inequality through fiscal policies.

According to him, member countries can overcome such problem if they adhere to the ECOWAS protocols on Democracy and Good governance, which provides for equitable distribution of resources and income.

“Low civil society spaces were responsible for not influencing ECOWAS in some of their decision making,” he said.

Also, the organization’s Country Director for Sierra Leone, Mohamed Haibe, said they recently changed their name to Oxfam/ IBIS, and disclosed that they were working in 19 countries, citing Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Burkina Faso in the West African sub-region.

“We were looking at tax regime and inequality in the four West African countries. Pillar 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals explained inequality which need education and accountability,” he said.

He spoke about the need for the government to build development strategies that would tackle inequality from all angles, adding that they have strong evidence that progressive taxation and progressive spending had played a key role in reducing the gap between rich and poor countries around the World.

He revealed that Sierra Leone was losing  10 %  of GDP a year with  Burkina Faso  4%  and  Ghana 2%  to illicit  flows  through trade  misplacing alone and reckoned that to fight inequality, it was vital  to design a tax system that was fair .

Spending on public services such as education, health and social protection, Mr. Haibe said would have a positive impact on reducing inequality, stressing that 69 % of overall fiscal policies impact on inequality.

“In Sierra   Leone, economic inequality remains relatively low but geographical inequality remains stark. Extremely low levels of human development and high levels of extreme poverty persist throughout the country,” he stated.

On his part, member of the Executive Committee of the West Africa Civil Society Forum, Ngolo Katta, said the seminar was timely as the country was presently going through austerity measures, adding that countries around the world were grappling with diverse problems.

He said there was need to discuss such sensitive issues so that state actors could be able to seek the interest of the citizenry.

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