Inequality remains a critical issue that should be addressed with urgency if costly consequences are to be avoided, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) executive secretary Carlos Lopes has said.
In a keynote address to a symposium jointly hosted by Oxfam and Oxford University to examine, among other issues, the causes and consequences of uneven economic growth and rising inequality between and within nations, Lopes said inequality should never be accepted as a way of life.
Lopes said inequalities in Africa could be greatly reduced if illicit financial outflows, which are costing the continent an estimated $60 billion annually, were stemmed.
“Imagine the impact these illicit resources in reducing inequality through social transfers and investments in productive and job creating initiatives,” he told the symposium held on Tuesday in the United Kingdom.
Lopes said addressing illicit financial flows, requires the collective efforts of both national governments and the international community.
“It is an African problem with a global solution,” he said. “Western countries cannot turn a blind eye to tax avoidance and transfer pricing activities of their trans-national corporations while at the same time lecturing African countries about good governance.”
The symposium also assessed possible policy solutions to use in charting a way forward for equity, democracy and social stability in the global south.
These include the role of progressive fiscal policies in redistributing income, public financing for good quality universal free health and education.