Inequality on the horizon

Portugal is at risk of becoming one of the most socially and economically divided countries in the world, according to a recent report by non-profit organisation Oxfam.

The organisation issued the warning while presenting a new report, entitled ‘A Cautionary Tale’.

It predicts that countries suffering from austerity measures in exchange for financial aid from the troika – such as Portugal and Greece –, in addition to others like the UK, will soon be among the most unequal countries in the world.

Natalia Alonso, the head of Oxfam’s EU Office, said: “The only people to benefit from austerity are the richest 10% of Europeans, who alone have seen their wealth rise. Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK – countries that are most aggressively pursuing austerity measures – will soon rank amongst the most unequal worldwide if their leaders don’t change course. For example, the gap between rich and poor in the UK and Spain could become the same as in South Sudan or Paraguay”.

It was also revealed that if austerity measures continue to be enforced across Europe, then the continent is at risk of seeing 25 million of its citizens joining the poverty ranks by 2025.

Oxfam said that there are alternatives to austerity policies and that the calamitous periods of austerity cuts to social spending in Latin America, South East Asia and Africa throughout the 1980s and 1990s should be seen as a lesson.

“Some countries in these regions took two decades to claw their way back to square one,” the organisation said.