Monday, January 21, 2019 | ePaper

Inequality still a major global problem

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FORMER World Trade Organisation Director General Pascal Lamy on Saturday said the problem of rising inequality in countries across the globe could be resolved internally. Internal consensus and efforts are very much needed to alleviate wealth inequality, and in doing so many instruments including taxation and prevention of getting higher returns from wealth could be used, he said, as per reports of local dailies.

Lamy was speaking at a public lecture on 'Knowledge to share, planet to care' organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka. He also said the environmental devaluation issue needs global efforts, otherwise it would not work.

There is little to be done in ensuring fair share for the workers of profits big brands are making from the readymade garment products sourced from countries like Bangladesh, Lamy, who was WTO Director General in 2005-13, said while addressing the issue raised the meeting. He said that he knew about the issue of selling by global brands a shirt at $25 that was sourced at $5.

He said as per the report that it's a market-driven economic system and there is a very little to be done. Rather, he stated, time has come to protect the consumers and it's a very tough job compared with that of ensuring rights of the producers.

It is true that internal inequities could be rooted out internally through taxation - but it is also equally true that Western countries could do more to root out developing country inequalities. One simple way to do so is to prevent the transfer of funds which have been procured through illegal or corrupt methods. This would automatically make people who earn through corrupt means in third world nations think twice before doing so as there would be no safe refuge for their ill-gotten funds - as many dictators and their families think nothing of buying expensive properties in first would countries. But no developed nation is yet to provide a comprehensive set of laws to regulate the flow of incoming funds from developing countries.

Another way to reduce income inequality is to provide developing countries adequate compensation for their products instead of squeezing them to get enhanced profits - as first world companies won't do. Bangladesh is a sufferer of this as the unit prices it receives from such products as RMG have been declining for the last decade or more. Such adequate compensation would go a long way towards the workers getting a minimum sustainable wage - an act which would automatically reduce inequality. But yet again first world nations will bypass this as it is contrary to their interests. Its time that first world countries stopped uttering pious platitudes and started proactive work to actually put in effect measures which would make the world a less inequitable place.

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