Crux of the problem lies in the greed of doing business for profit and the eminence of capitalism, says Nobel laureate
By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE rich are getting richer. Chances are, while the not so well-heeled are debating about the abolition of the Goods and Services Tax and re-introduction of the Sales and Services Tax, the more affluent consumers wouldn’t even flinch as they rummage through the most expensive retail outlets for the latest in fashion.
If you ask social business advocate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who is also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world’s current economic system is flawed and at the rate it is going, it could collapse by 2040.
Muhammad said the global wealth gap issue is a ticking time bomb, one that could blow up at any time and cause economies to collapse.
“The system is on the collapse path. No matter what you see, all the rise and glory, it is not. It is a matter of 10 to 20 years,” Muhammad said to The Malaysian Reserve in an exclusive interview.
The latest report by Oxfam International revealed that 82% of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1% of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth. Malaysia is not excluded.
According to the United Nations’ 2013 Malaysia Human Development report, 22% of the country’s gross domestic product was being monopolised by 40 super-rich Malaysians.
Data from the Employees Provident Fund showed that two in 10 account holders have less than RM8,000 in savings.
Muhammad said the crux of the problem lies in the greed of doing business for profit and the eminence of capitalism.
He said the business world nowadays has skewed themselves to a direction where it is all about making money and wealth accumulation.
The 1% “chosen ones” on top of the economic chain would obviously be the biggest beneficiaries.
“The system is designed in a way that the bigger you are, the bigger you will get.
“I could have two dollars if I double my one dollar. “Similarly, I can have two billion dollars from my one billion dollars. Someone has the advantage and they start to control the business,” Muhammad said.
The solution? “Change the system. Get rid of capitalism,” he said.
Muhammad, who authored the book “A World of Three Zeros”, views the work of social business and entrepreneurship can counter the imbalance and subsequently help avoid economic destruction.
Simply put, social business is described by Muhammad as a business activity that is not focusing on maximising the profit, but to really solve problems and change the world.
In Malaysia, the Youth Trust Foundation or myHarapan has been working hand in hand with Muhammad to promote the social business agenda in the country.
He said the social business scene in Malaysia has started to gain momentum, despite the naysayers and detractors believing the concept is a “crazy idea”.
“The funny thing is that many of the corporations are starting to do social business now. They think it is a good idea,” Muhammad said.
As for entrepreneurship, he said the current economic theories have forced people to become jobseekers instead of standing on their own as what a human is naturally born to do.
Muhammad is the founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh that pioneered the concept of microcredit and microfinancing solution for the poor.
He said entrepreneurship could solve the wealth concentration problem as nobody could take advantage of someone else when everyone is working for their own.
Ultimately, he said there are many other ways to correct the flawed global system and it can still be saved so long as selflessness is practised.
“The ideal world would be based on empathy, sharing and caring. It is not about how much you got in terms of wealth, but how much you contribute as a human being. That is the world that I am looking forward to,” he said.