> UN report attacks austerity budgets for growing inequality

World: UN report attacks austerity budgets for growing inequality


Study says spending cuts have encouraged rise of robots and AI and heightened job insecurity, particularly for women

Austerity budgets adopted by governments across the world since the 2008 financial crash are to blame for undermining the job security of millions of workers and threatening the evolution made by women in the workplace, according to a UN statement.

The threat to jobs from the growing use of robots and artificial intelligence has been exacerbated by a lack of government investment and lack of national support for skills training, the statement as well said.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Improvment(Unctad) said in its annual statement, Beyond Austerity – Towards a World New Transaction, that the contraction of government spending meant that “the increasingly limited availability of good jobs” were going to men rather than women.

“Excluding women from good jobs deepens in general inequality with negative consequences for increase,” it said.

The statement argued that giving women access to decent employment could only be completed if governments maintained investment in affordable childcare facilities and care for the elderly. At the same time as they make steep cuts in early-years education and healthcare provision they are entirely asking women to pick up the slack, it said.

“There is much additional to do to reach gender equality in employment than to increase the participation of women in markets and boardrooms,” said Unctad’s secretary general, Mukhisa Kituyi.

The statement said: “Given the employment challenges associated with structural and technological change, and women’s primary responsibility for care work, Unctad recommends transforming unpaid and paid care activities into decent work”

The rebuke of governments, inclunding the UK’s, that have adopted austerity measures to reduce public deficit while allowing households’ private deficit to increase, is the major theme of the statement.

Last year’s annual statement highlighted fears of a deficit crisis in developing nations as the threat of falling commodity prices and higher interest rates mounted. Low interest rates and the stimulus from quantitative easing have remained in place, easing the threat, but only in response to gloomy forecasts for GDP increase should either be withdrawn.

Kituyi, the former chief of the Kenya Institute of Governance, said: “Despite all the talk of the urgency of reform at the time of the financial crisis, and recent claims that the economy is safer, simpler and fairer, regulatory actions have so far done little additional than clip the wings of high-flying finance, with lending presently somewhat backed by capital and a bit less trading in the shadows.

“The public purse was used generously to prevent the financial sector going under in 2007-08, but the root causes of financial instability have not been addressed by national governments or on a world scale.”

Austerity was heightening fears that robots and artificial intelligence would displace workers in well-paid jobs rather than enhance their work and improve productivity, the statement said. It argues for digitally focused industrial policies to ensure that robotics support jobs rather than threaten them.

Richard Kozul-Wright, the director of Unctad’s globalisation and development strategies division, said concerns about robots were mounting against a backdrop of uncertainty over the strength of the world economy.

“This has held back the investment needed to create new sectors, where workers displaced by robots could find better jobs,” he said.
Routine tasks in well-paying manufacturing and service jobs are being restored by robots, the statement said, but low-wage manufacturing jobs in areas such as clothing factories are left largely unaffected by automation.

“Although most jobs in developing nations are not under immediate threat, a tendency to further concentrate manufacturing activity in existing locations could follow, raising concerns that the gap between winners and losers from robot use will widen sharply,” it said.

Related Articles
  • Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz Calls For New Strategy

    2017/10/19 Joseph Stiglitz has advised African nations to adopt coordinated strategy encompassing agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and service sectors to attain same success delivered by the old manufacturing export-led strategy. Prof. Stiglitz, an economist and professor at Columbia University, New York, gave the advice at the Babacar Ndiaye lecture series introduced by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) which debuted in Washington D.C.
  • “Africa will become the food basket of the world” – Dangote

    2017/10/17 Nigerian business leader Aliko Dangote told investors Africa will become the food basket of the world.” In a packed room at the headquarters of world law firm Shearman and Sterling LLC high-level business leaders and international diplomats invited by the Corporate Council for Africa to hear Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame openly discuss on Africa’s opportunities and challenges.
  • Cote d’Ivoire: Agriculture development key to stop illegal migration-Stakeholders

    2017/10/17 Conference in the Ivorian city of Jacqueville, Stakeholders in the agricultural sector, on Saturday, presented agriculture development programs aimed at easing the illegal migration crisis.The presentation took place about 50 km west of the capital city Abidjan, where the 37th edition of World Food Day was celebrated around the theme, “Changing the next of migration: investing in food security and rural development.”
  • ‘Betting on Africa to Feed the World’

    2017/10/17 The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, will deliver the Norman Borlaug Lecture on Monday 16 October as part of the World Food Prize events taking place from October 16 to 20, 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. The Norman Borlaug Lecture under the title: “Betting on Africa to Feed the World”, will be held on World Food Day, October 16, in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize celebration.
  • WFP chief appeals for peace on World Food Day

    2017/10/17 The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday made an impassioned plea for peace amid mounting evidence of the links between conflict, migration and rising hunger.Concerns are growing that evolution in defeating world hunger is being reversed as record numbers of people flee their homes to escape fighting. “Someday someday, World Food Day will be a celebration of a peaceful and well-fed world. Sadly, that day seems very far off right presently. We have far too much violence and conflict, and that is why we have additional people who are hungry and in need of assistance,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.