Thursday 17 January 2019

Ireland’s billionaire club increases with two additions

There are now 2,043 dollar billionaires worldwide
There are now 2,043 dollar billionaires worldwide
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Two more Irish people joined the billionaire club in 2017, bringing the total number of Irish billionaires to eight, with a combined wealth of €34.2bn.

According to a report from Oxfam, growing inequality resulted in 82pc of new global wealth going to the richest 1pc last year, as the combined wealth of billionaires around the world increased by $762bn in 2017.

Meanwhile the poorest half of the world saw their prosperity flatline, the Oxfam report has shown.

There are now 2,043 dollar billionaires worldwide, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth, according to the report.

The report, ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ revealed how the global economy enables a wealthy few to accumulate vast fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are struggling to survive on poverty pay.

"The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system," Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s chief executive, said.

"The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors."

On the back of the report, Oxfam said it was calling on governments to sure that economies worked for everyone by limiting returns to shareholders and top executives, and ensuring all workers receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life.

In addition the organisation has called on Governments to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and crackdown on tax avoidance.

When referring to Ireland specifically, the organisation said that the Government needs to implement commitments made in the Programme for Government, whereby the Government committed to ‘develop the process of budget proofing as a means of advancing equality.’

"The Irish Government is not helpless in the face of technological change and market forces. A major contributor to this obscene inequality is the widespread use of tax dodging by large corporations and the super-rich," Mr Clarken said,

"Now is the opportune time for the Irish Government to show their support for international tax reforms," he continued.

The report is being launched as political and business elites gather this week for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

(Additional reporting from PA).

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