Manila, Philippines – Japan leads the Asian countries that are working towards reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Reducing inequality is one of the priorities of the countries that are part of the commitment to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. How are the governments working towards this goal? To answer this question, Oxfam and Development Finance International (DFI) released the second index ‘to measure the commitment of governments to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor’. The index covers 157 countries and ranks them on the basis of their social spending, progressive taxation and labour rights – three areas found to be critical to reducing the gap.
In Asia, Japan ranks the highest in terms of investing towards reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. Japan ranked 11 globally is the only Asian country to figure in top twenty. It has considerably increased its tax collection and significantly increased minimum wages as well.
South Korea ranked 58 globally is second in Asia in its commitment to reducing inequality.The country has significantly improved in all three areas that the index considers to measure the commitment. The country has increased the minimum wage by 16.4 per cent. It has also increased the taxation on the profitable corporations as well as increased spending.
Mongolia ranks third in Asia and 58 globally. The country has substantially increased taxation for high earners to reduce the inequality. It is followed by Thailand ranked fourth in Asia and 74 globally.Malaysia and China is ranked 75 and 81 respectively. Indonesia globally ranked 91 has increased the minimum wages by 9 per cent. It is also trying to equalize wages rapidly by increasing them more in rural areas than urban areas. It is followed by Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
Cambodia is ranked 121 globally owing to its very low social spending. Pakistan is ranked 137 globally. The country fares badly in social spending and taxation. It is followed by Myanmar and Nepal.
India is one of the countries that is ranked very low at 147 globally. The government spending on social protection, education and health is abysmally low. The country fares poorly in taxation and labour laws, especially labour rights of women. It is followed by neighbouring Bangladesh.
Singapore is ranked 149 globally owing to its inadequate labour laws, low social spending – just 39% of the budget goes to education, health and social protection combined. However, the country has issued a strong objection to the findings of the report. The lowest ranked Asian countries are Laos and Bhutan.