July 10, 2019
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRII) by West African governments, a report released by Oxfam West Africa, has rated Sierra Leone to be among the least committed countries to reduce inequalities and poverty in Africa.
The report which was the first ever on commitment to reducing inequality-regional and national -respectively compared and ranked West African governments’ commitment on three (3) pillars-public spending, taxation and labour markets.
In addition to the report, a regional analysis of agriculture and land rights was launched yesterday by Oxfam Sierra Leone in collaboration with Movement Against Inequality (MAISL) and the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) at the IGR head office on Wilkinson Road in Freetown.
Reading the Press release to the press, Oxfam Sierra Leone Influencing Coordinator, Nuru Deen said Sierra Leone is the most unequal country across the African continent, with some of the most extreme divides between the rich and poor in the world, with inequality at a crisis level.
He charged that the Government of Sierra Leone is less committed to reducing inequality than the rest of the continent, adding that while a small but growing group becomes fantastically rich, a clear majority of the country’s citizens are denied the most essential elements of a dignified life like access to quality education, health care and decent jobs.
“This index reveals that the Sierra Leone government is exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as health care and education. It also shows that Sierra Leone government is underfunding the agriculture sector on the one hand, while under taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax evasion, tax avoidance and corruption on the other. This is unacceptable,’’ said Adama Coulibaly, Regional Director of Oxfam in West Africa.
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The Report also presented an ambitious policy agenda to address inequality in Sierra Leone and other ECOWAS countries.
“There is nothing inevitable about the inequality crisis in the West Africa region, and without radically increasing the commitment to reduce inequality; the crisis is likely to only worsen. Governments can build a brighter future for everyone, including women and girls who are the most impacted by inequality -not just a privileged few,’’ said Joel Akhator Odigie of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa)
According to Nuru Deen, Oxfam was releasing the appalling index ahead of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Developmnmnt in New York.
He urged the Government of Sierra Leone to prioritize fighting inequality, with this year marking the fourth in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), adding that acting to cut down on inequalities is one of the 17 SDGs .
‘’It’s time for Sierra Leone Government to act decisively. To strengthen this commitment, Sierra Lone government must promote progressive taxation, boost social spending, strengthen labour market protection, invest in agriculture and strengthen land rights for small holder framers. We cannot beat poverty without fighting against inequality,’’ said Adama Coulibaly, Regional Director of Oxfam in West Africa.