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MP Weerawansa describes wealth inequality as income inequality

7 March 2024 08:59 am - 8     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The MP argued at a press conference that Sri Lanka’s tax policies don’t take adequate account of the huge inequality existing among Sri Lankan citizens, when designing the distribution of the tax burden. In support of this larger argument, he provided the above statistics highlighting inequality. 
To check this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the World Inequality Database (WID) and the 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) by the UNDP. The most recent figures are reported for 2022.


According to the available data, distribution of national income in Sri Lanka is different from the figures cited by the MP, and the inequality of income is notably less than what is cited. The top one percent are recorded as having received 15% of the total income, and not 31% as cited by the MP. Likewise, the top ten percent received only 42%, not 64% of the income, and the bottom fifty percent received 16% and not just 4% of the income.
In attempting to understand how the MP had arrived at his numbers, FactCheck.lk found that the MP had cited figures related to wealth inequality in Sri Lanka, and not income inequality. 
Inequality can be quantified both in terms of income or wealth across different strata of society; but they are quite different measures/statistics. According to the HDR, income is measured as wages, salaries, profits, and earnings over a given period. By contrast, wealth is measured as the total current value of accumulated assets owned by individuals (e.g., savings, properties, investments) minus all debts.
The MP’s cited figures align with the distribution reported of net personal wealth across society, and not the distribution of total national income as he claimed (see Exhibit 1). Overall, the MP is setting out to highlight inequality in society, and arguing for taxes that take more from those who are better off and less from those who are worse off. Wealth inequality that he cites correctly (though mislabeling it as income inequality) is an important measure of inequality, and a valid focus of tax policy. The MP’s statement is not correct, as he mislabels the “wealth” inequality statistics as “income” inequality statistics. However, if correctly labelled that statistic on wealth inequality does support the argument he is making.
Therefore, we classify the MP’s statement as PARTLY TRUE.


*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
Source: World Inequality Database 2022

 


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  Comments - 8

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  • Poor to rich Friday, 08 March 2024 05:40 PM

    This m.wansa fails to understand inherited wealth. He wants to make poor rich by grabbing it from the rich. He should encourage people to work hard and the government to give the lead.

    Sanath Monday, 11 March 2024 08:31 PM

    What do you expect from a uneducated quack. Though our illiterates hero worship this racist. It is politicians like this who ruined the country.

    Pullma Dingalinga Thursday, 14 March 2024 10:50 PM

    Yes, we should all become MINISTERS and accumulate wealth through graft and corruption. When is this guys trial for corruption due to resume ?

    Punchi Thusithaya Friday, 15 March 2024 08:19 AM

    Rajapakshas and many of their close political and personal associates fall into that 1% including Wimal and his former party (JVP-NPP) relatives from down south and some UNP, SLFP, SJB fellows from up and down who are overjoyed even under the cloud of economic collapse.

    ANNECUNT Friday, 15 March 2024 07:02 PM

    does Weerawansa has O.L qualification. OR is he a school drop out?

    DAISY AUNTY Saturday, 16 March 2024 01:22 PM

    i also need a diplomatic passport? how much do you charge?

    lion Tuesday, 16 April 2024 05:21 AM

    last days in parliament and he makes numerous attempt to gain the attention of public which he did very well few years ago. Now that era is over.

    Gnanasara Bathgundu Tuesday, 16 April 2024 10:04 AM

    Now you are recalling socialism and democracy after stealing with Myna and building your wealth! Some Gonnus are ready to believe you again! What has happened to your and your wife court cases! RW gave you a guarantee expecting your support!!


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