Oxfam: Billionaires thriving as poor suffer in widening Covid-19 divide


A file photo of people taking part in a protest called Make Amazon Pay, at the building where Bezos lives in Manhattan, New York, US. The 10 richest men – a list led by Bezos and Musk which also includes Arnault, Gates and Zuckerberg – saw their net worth increase by US$540bil (RM2.18 trillion) between March and December 2020, Oxfam said. — Reuters

LONDON: Billionaires including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder Elon Musk have seen their wealth soar during the Covid-19 pandemic while the world’s poor face years of hardship, charity Oxfam said on Jan 25 as it demanded steps to tackle inequality.

Nations have a “shrinking window of opportunity” to build a fair, green recovery, according to “The Inequality Virus” report, published as global leaders tune in for the World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Dialogue” meeting.

“We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began,” Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said in a statement as the charity called for higher wealth taxes and stronger protections for workers.

“Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in luxury, while those on the frontline of the pandemic – shop assistants, healthcare workers, and market vendors – are struggling to pay the bills.”

Covid-19 has unleashed an economic storm that hit the poor and vulnerable hardest, with women and marginalised workers facing the worst of job losses and the World Bank warning more than 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.

It could take more than a decade to reduce the number of people living in poverty back to pre-crisis levels, Oxfam said.

Meanwhile, the collective wealth of the world’s billionaires rose US$3.9 trillion (RM15.78 trillion) between March and December 2020 to reach US$11.95 trillion (RM48.36 trillion), the report calculated.

The 10 richest men – a list led by Bezos and Musk which also includes LVMH luxury group’s CEO Bernard Arnault, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – saw their net worth increase by US$540bil (RM2.18 trillion) in the same period, Oxfam said.

That sum would be enough to prevent anyone from falling into poverty as a result of the pandemic and pay for a vaccine for everyone on earth, researchers calculated.

The pandemic marks a “pivotal” point which has exposed economic disparities and built support for “transformative” policies, Oxfam said, calling for higher taxes on wealth and corporations alongside stronger protections for workers.

A temporary tax on excess profits made by the 32 global corporations that have profited the most during the pandemic could have raised US$104bil (RM420.94bil) in 2020, Oxfam said.

International cooperation would be key to implementing many changes, said Jayati Ghosh, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was among the economists polled by Oxfam for the report.

The administration of new US President Joe Biden will spur “more willingness” for joint action on issues including a crackdown on tax havens and a bailout for developing nations, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“There are some very, very big hurdles, but there are many things that can be done very quickly,” she added.

Addressing a virtual meeting of global leaders organised by the World Economic Forum on Monday, Bucher said the pandemic had highlighted the impact of persistent racial inequalities that governments had failed to tackle.

“Nearly 22,000 Black and Hispanic people in the US would still be alive if their Covid-19 mortality rates were the same as white people,” she said. – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Next In Tech News

Crypto sees second week of outflows; ether posts record outflows - CoinShares
Germany seeks to fine operators of Telegram messenger app
Soon you will be able to subscribe to newsletters directly via Twitter
Three things to look for in a smartphone for outdoor adventures
Analysis: Murkiness of Russia's ransomware role complicates Biden summit mission
In El Salvador's bitcoin beach town, digital divide slows uptake
YouTube bans masthead ads for politics, alcohol and bets
Groups urge Biden to nominate FCC commissioner to speed net neutrality reinstatement
Exclusive: El Salvador bitcoin transfers soar, but still a fraction of dollar remittances
U.S. Supreme Court revives LinkedIn bid to shield personal data

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers