During the Covid-19 pandemic, a new billionaire arose every 30 hours, and almost a million people could slip into abject poverty at the same rate in 2022. These are the dismal facts revealed by Oxfam recently.
According to a brief released on Monday, the first day of the Globe Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, there were 573 more billionaires in the world in March 2022 than there were in March 2020, when the pandemic began. According to Oxfam, this translates to one new billionaire every 30 hours.
Furthermore, the epidemic, rising global inequality, and rising food prices, all of which have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, are expected to force 263 million people into extreme poverty by 2022. According to Oxfam, that’s the equivalent of nearly a million people every 33 hours.
According to the group, billionaires were worth a total of $12.7 trillion in March. By 2021, billionaire wealth would have accounted for approximately 14 per cent of global GDP.
Billionaires were flocking in Davos to “enjoy an unprecedented boom in their fortunes,” according to Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International.
“The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them,” she said.
“Meanwhile, 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,” Bucher added.
Focusing on specific corporate sectors, Oxfam reported that the fortunes of food and energy billionaires increased by $453 billion in the last two years, or $1 billion every two days.
According to Oxfam, the food behemoth Cargill is one of four businesses that control more than 70 per cent of the worldwide agricultural industry. Last year, the Cargill family’s company made the most profit in its history, with a net income of about $5 billion. According to the report, the Cargill family now has 12 millionaires, up from eight before the pandemic.
There were no comments on the issue from Cargill.
Meanwhile, Oxfam reported that the pandemic generated 40 new pharmaceutical billionaires. Those who made billions from their companies’ monopolies on vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and personal protective equipment are known as billionaires.
Oxfam suggested that governments levy one-time solidarity taxes on billionaires’ pandemic windfalls to avert even greater wealth inequality and to help people cope with rising food and energy costs.
The organisation also advised that governments put an end to “crisis profiteering” by imposing a 90 per cent temporary excess profit tax on all windfall profits produced by large firms.
Oxfam also advocated a permanent tax to limit extreme wealth, monopoly power, and the super-increased rich’s carbon emissions.
According to the report, a 2 per cent annual wealth tax on millionaires and 5% on billionaires could produce $2.52 trillion each year. That amount would be sufficient to bring 2.3 billion people out of poverty, provide enough vaccines for the whole world’s population, and provide universal health care and social safety to everyone in poor and lower-middle income countries.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)