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Poverty: ‘5 billion people are now poorer; the wealth of the 5 richest has doubled since 2020’

Poverty: ‘5 billion people are now poorer; the wealth of the 5 richest has doubled since 2020’

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Virendra Pandit 

 

New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic may have been a blessing in disguise for some and an existential crisis for many.

For, the fortunes of the world’s five richest men have more than doubled since 2020, and nearly five billion people have already turned poorer in this “decade of division,” according to the annual Oxfam report on inequality, released on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting at Davos, Switzerland, the media reported on Monday.

It said the world could have its first-ever trillionaire in just a decade while it would take more than two centuries to end poverty.

Oxfam, a British-funded rights group and confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International, said seven of 10 of the world’s biggest corporations have a billionaire as a CEO, or principal shareholder.

It said that 148 top corporations made USD 1.8 trillion in profits, 52 percent up on the three-year average, and paid huge payouts to rich shareholders, while hundreds of millions faced cuts in real-term pay.

Oxfam called for a new era of public action, including public services, corporate regulation, breaking up monopolies and enacting permanent wealth and excess profit taxes.

The world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes from USD 405 billion to USD 869 billion since 2020 “at a rate of USD 14 million per hour,” while nearly five billion people have already been made poorer in this “decade of division,” said the Oxfam report on inequality and global corporate power.

“If current trends continue, the world will have its first trillionaire within a decade but poverty won’t be eradicated for another 229 years,” it said.

Titled Inequality Inc., the report said seven of ten of the world’s biggest corporations are worth USD 10.2 trillion, equivalent to more than the combined GDPs of all countries in Africa and Latin America.

“We are witnessing the beginnings of a decade of division, with billions of people shouldering the economic shockwaves of the pandemic, inflation, and war, while billionaires’ fortunes boom.

“This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else,” Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar said.

Despite representing just 21 percent of the global population, rich countries in the Global North own 69 percent of global wealth and are home to 74 percent of the world’s billionaire wealth, Oxfam said.

 

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