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A new billionaire emerges every 30 hours during the Covid-19 pandemic, and nearly a million could fall into it Extreme poverty is about the same as in 2022. These are the factual statistics recently released by Oxfam.
The global charitable organization said in a brief published on Monday, the first day of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, that the number of billionaires in the world reached 573 by March 2022 compared to 2020, when the pandemic began. Oxfam said this equates to a new billionaire every 30 hours.
Furthermore, it estimated that 263 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty levels in 2022 due to the pandemic, rising global inequality, and rising food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Oxfam said this equates to nearly a million people every 33 hours.
The organization noted that billionaires totaled $12.7 trillion as of March. In 2021, billionaire wealth represented approximately 14% of global GDP.
Gabriella Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said billionaires are arriving at the summit of Davos “to celebrate the astonishing increase in their fortunes”.
“The pandemic and now the sharp increases in food and energy prices have been a huge mine for them,” she said.
“Meanwhile, decades of progress in extreme poverty are now going in reverse, and millions of people are facing impossible increases in the cost of just surviving,” Bucher added.
Supporting massive wealth in specific business sectors, Oxfam said the fortunes of the food and energy super-rich have risen by $453 billion in the past two years, the equivalent of $1 billion every two days.
For example, food giant Cargill is reported to be one of four companies that control more than 70% of the global agricultural market, according to Oxfam. The company, which is owned by the Cargill family, generated a net income of nearly $5 billion last year — the largest profit in its history. She added that there are now 12 billionaires in the Cargill family alone, up from eight before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Oxfam said the pandemic has created 40 new billionaires in the pharmaceutical sector. Billionaires are those who have benefited from their companies’ monopoly on vaccines, treatments, tests and personal protective equipment.
In order to prevent greater wealth inequality, and to support people as food and energy costs rise, Oxfam has recommended governments introduce one-time solidarity taxes on the pandemic’s windfall gains from billionaires.
The charity also suggested that governments end “crisis exploitation” by imposing a temporary 90% dividend tax on windfall gains made by big companies in all sectors.
Oxfam has also proposed a permanent tax to rein in the massive wealth, monopoly power and higher carbon emissions produced by the super-rich.
She said an annual wealth tax of 2% on millionaires and 5% on billionaires could generate $2.52 trillion a year. That would be enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world’s population, as well as provide universal health care and social protection for those living in low- and middle-income countries.
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