The Hush Post| 13:30 pm |two-minute-read
Twenty-six richest people of the world own the same wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of humanity, Oxfam said on Monday.
It urged the governments to increase taxes on the wealthy so that soaring inequality can be fought. A new report from the charity, published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, also found that billionaires around the world saw their combined fortunes grow by $2.5 billion each day in 2018.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who happens to be world’s richest man, saw his fortune increase to $112 billion last year. Just one per cent of his wealth was equal to the entire health budget of Ethiopia. The population of Ethopia is 10 crore.
The 3.8 billion people at the bottom saw their wealth decline by 11 per cent last year. The increasing gap between rich and poor was undermining the fight against poverty. It was also damaging economies and fuelling public anger, Oxfam said.
“People across the globe are angry and frustrated,” warned Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima in a statement.
The numbers are stark: Between 1980 and 2016, the poorest half of humanity pocketed just 12 cents on each dollar of global income growth. Compare it with 27 cents captured by the top one per cent, the report found.
Rich are taxed less
Oxfam warned that governments were exacerbating inequality by increasingly underfunding public services like healthcare and education at the same time as they consistently under-tax the wealthy.
Calls for hiking rates on the wealthy have multiplied across the world over swelling inequality.
In the US, new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines proposing to tax the ultra-rich up to 70 per cent.
The self-described Democratic Socialist’s proposal came after President Donald Trump’s sweeping tax reforms cut the top rate last year from 39.6 per cent to 37 per cent.
And in Europe, the “yellow vest” movement has been rocking France with anti-government protests since November. It is demanding that President Emmanuel Macron repeal controversial cuts to wealth taxes on high earners.
The super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades. This is what the Oxfam report said. It pointed out that “the human costs — children without teachers, clinics without medicines — are huge.”
“Piecemeal private services punish poor people and privileged elites,” it said, stressing that every day, some 10,000 people die due to lacking access to affordable healthcare.