Sep 28, 2012
Obvious questions, no obvious answersBack
© Reuse this
It’s not a new theme and it is most definitely not an uncom-plicated theme. But there is a definite sense of unease, even revulsion, about current executive-pay levels and the method-ologies used to inform these packages. There is particular anger that most bonus schemes seem to be entirely immune to poor performance.
Without doubt, this is not a uniquely South African dilemma. Serious questions are being asked globally about the impact inequality is having on economic performance and on social cohesion.
For instance, the ‘Trade and Development Report, 2012’, which was published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) earlier this month, dedicates a great deal of attention to the issue of inequality, its impact on growth and possible remedies.
The analysis shows that, over the past 30 years, income inequality has increased within countries and that in several instances, the richest one per cent of the population now accounts for 10% to 20% of national wealth.
One of Unctad’s key messages is that “there is nothing natural about rising inequality that requires society to allow or accept it, nor does it improve the efficiency of market outcomes”.
In fact, the authors assert that the current weak global economic performance has its roots in faltering demand, which, in turn, can be attributed to issues such as wage compression, deleveraging and unemployment.
There will be no significant recovery, Unctad avers, until low- and middle-income groups achieve sufficient earnings to spend on consumption, which will create the demand required to drive modern economies.
In other words, it argues that dealing with inequality through more even income distribution will be critical to future economic performance.
This argument is premised on a view that high inequality deprives people of access to education and credit, and prevents the expansion of domestic markets. “Thus, a better income distribution pattern would help stimulate and sustain economic growth in the short run and would provide stronger incentives for investment, innovation and job creation in the long run.”
Given the extreme nature of South Africa’s wealth–poverty divide, it is only natural that this issue should receive greater attention and should be a top-of-mind priority for government, business and labour.
But there is also a need to grapple with issues of remuneration and inequality within the highly contradictory context of skills shortages amid chronic unemployment. In other words, we should not expect the answers to be easy to come by, nor that the remedies will be straight- forward to formulate and implement.
Edited by: Terence Creamer© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Editorial Insight News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
This Week's Magazine
The Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University is strongly reaffirming its position as one of South Africa’s leading centres for satellite technology and expertise. It is currently...
The world’s lowest-cost diesel-electric locomotive is not made in China, but in Pretoria, at RRL Grindrod Locomotives’ newly upgraded 30 000 m2 plant. The company’s locomotive pricing is “more competitive than any other original-equipment manufacturer (OEM)...
The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology...
AltX-listed engineering technology company Ansys has been awarded an R188-million contract by Transnet to supply integrated dashboard display systems to the freight rail utility’s locomotives. Black-owned and controlled Ansys developed the bespoke integrated system...
South Africa’s sole nuclear power station Koeberg, which is located in the Western Cape, breached a major operations milestone on April 4, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of Unit 1 having been connected to the grid. Eskom, which operates the two-unit plant,...