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Turkey worst performer among OECD members in income inequality index

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Turkey ranked last among 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries and 74th among 161 countries in total in the 2022 Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index, which reviewed the spending, tax and labor policies and actions of 161 governments during the 2020–2022 period.

Based on new research by Oxfam and Development Finance International (DFI), the report is the first detailed analysis looking at governments’ policies and actions to fight inequality during the first two years of the pandemic.

It argues COVID-19 has increased inequality worldwide as the poorest were hit hardest by both the disease and its profound economic impacts and that most of the world’s governments failed to mitigate this dangerous rise in inequality.

Turkey’s ranking in public services, a pillar that looks at government actions to fight inequality through public education, health and social protection services, was 69, while its tax ranking, which focuses on government actions to make tax more progressive to reduce inequality, was 114, according to the report.

In terms of labor policy indicator, which looks at what governments are doing to support labor and union rights through legislation and implementation, Turkey was ranked 71st among 161 countries.

The report also said, citing the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Index 2021, that Turkey was one of the worst places for union rights last year, which also included Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Egypt, Honduras, Myanmar, the Philippines and Zimbabwe.

The report further showed that despite the worst health crisis in a century, half the low and lower-middle-income countries cut their share of health spending in their budgets, with almost half of all countries cutting their share going to social protection and 70 percent cutting their share going to education.

As poverty levels increased to record levels and workers struggled with decades-high prices, two-thirds of countries failed to raise their minimum wage in line with economic growth, the report said, adding that 143 of 161 countries froze the tax rates on their richest citizens and 11 countries even lowered them, despite the huge pressure on government finance.

Commenting on the findings Matthew Martin, director of DFI, said: “The debate has catastrophically shifted from how we deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19 to how we reduce debt through brutal public spending cuts, and pay freezes. … Inequality is a policy choice, governments must stop putting the richest first, and ordinary people last.”

“Our index shows that most governments have completely failed to take the steps needed to counter the inequality explosion created by COVID-19. They ripped away public services when people needed them most and instead left billionaires and big corporations off the hook to reap record profits,” said Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam International executive director.

Over the past several years Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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