Covid

Covid Pandemic Created New Billionaire Every 30 Hours: Oxfam

 

A new report by Oxfam, the UK-based charity, says wealth inequality increased as a new billionaire was created every 30 hours in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over the same period, a million people slipped into absolute poverty – earning less than $1.90 a day – at nearly the same rate, every 33 hours, the group said.

The ‘Profiting From Pain’ report was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday. It said steep increases in the price of food, energy and commodities over the past two years had greatly aggravated global wealth inequality.

How many billionaires are there in the world?

The world now has 2,668 billionaires – 573 more than in 2020 – and they own $12.7 trillion, an increase of $3.78 trillion in just two years, it said.

And the world’s ten richest men now own more wealth than the bottom 40% of humanity, some 3.1 billion people, the report said.

ALSO SEE: IMF Official Sounds Warning on Risks to Asian Economies

The war in Ukraine had made things worse by causing a ‘giant leap’ in food prices and that had further enriched people who control food companies, such as more members of the Cargill family, who control ownership of one of the world’s largest food firms.

Now 12 members of the Cargill family were billionaires, it said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that Russia has blocked the embattled country from exporting 22 million tons of food products.

But while the pandemic helped 573 people become billionaires, vast numbers were struggling to feed themselves and the poverty level increasing, the report said.

“Decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” Gabriela Bucher, the executive director of Oxfam International, said.

Oxfam said its research revealed that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors – “where monopolies are especially common” – are posting record-high profits, even as wages have barely budged and workers struggle with decades-high prices amid Covid-19.

‘Rein in Extreme Wealth’

It wants governments around the world to introduce permanent wealth taxes to rein in extreme wealth and monopoly power, saying a 2% tax on millionaires and 4% tax on billionaires could generate $2.5 trillion – “enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty”.

Such a move would “deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries,” it said.

Argentina, it said, had adopted a one-off special levy dubbed the millionaire’s tax and was considering a windfall tax on energy profits.

 

• Jim Pollard

 

 

 

ALSO on AF:

Pakistan Seeks Urgent $6bn IMF Bailout as Economy Flounders

Sri Lanka Talks to China on Debt Rejig After IMF Meetings

 

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

Recent Posts

South Korea to Meet Striking Truckers as Supply Chains Suffer

The strike has seen container traffic at ports drop 19% and the country’s cement industry…

16 hours ago

Shanghai Covid Protests Break Out as Lockdowns Fury Builds

The Shanghai show of dissent comes after a deadly fire in Urumqi, the capital of China's…

17 hours ago

China Industrial Profits Slump as Economy Wilts Under Covid

Some analysts believe China's GDP could now contract this quarter and have cut their 2023…

19 hours ago

India Rocket Firm Has High Hopes Despite Low-Cost Pledge

Skyroot Aerospace says it expects to be able to launch its first satellite next year…

2 days ago

Huawei, ZTE Equipment Sales Banned by US Over Security Risks

The move is latest step in Washington's crackdown on Chinese tech giants amid fears the…

2 days ago

Covid Protests Erupt in China’s Xinjiang After Fatal Blaze

Beijing has vowed to continue with its controversial zero-Covid policy despite growing unrest and the…

2 days ago