Sunday 15 December 2019

Davos 2016: Just 62 super-rich worth same as half of the world's population - Oxfam

Mr Kenny will today begin his campaign for Britain to stay in the EU by outlining Ireland’s support for an overhaul of how the union works
Mr Kenny will today begin his campaign for Britain to stay in the EU by outlining Ireland’s support for an overhaul of how the union works
David Cameron. Photo: PA

Andrew Woodcock

Growing inequality means that the world's wealthiest 62 people own as much as the poorest half of the planet's population - some 3.6 billion people - according to a new report from Oxfam.

The richest 1pc - around 73 million out of the world's 7.3 billion people - now own as much as everyone else put together, said the report, which was published ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of global political and business leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Oxfam said urgent action was needed to tackle the "inequality crisis" and called on world leaders to take action to crack down on tax-dodging by the rich, which denies governments in the developing world billions of dollars a year that could be used on health, education and anti-poverty measures.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised in a speech in Davos three years ago to get tough on corporate tax avoidance.

But Oxfam said that promised measures to increase transparency in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, such as the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands, have not yet been implemented.

While the UK has made good on Mr Cameron's promise to introduce public registers of companies' owners, only one overseas territory - Montserrat - has followed suit.

The report found that the gap between rich and poor had widened "dramatically" over the past 12 months.

As recently as 2010, the combined wealth of the 388 richest people equalled that of the poorest half of the world, but that number has since plummeted to 80 last year and just 62 of the richest now.

The total wealth of the poorest half of the world fell by one trillion dollars (€900m) since 2010, even though the actual number of people in this group rose by 400 million, said the report, which is entitled 'An Economy for the 1%'.

Meanwhile, the wealth of the super-rich 62 rose by more than half a trillion dollars over the same period to $1.76trn. This equates to an average of around €26bn for each of the 62, who include just nine women.

Although the number of people living in extreme poverty halved between 1990 and 2010 globally, the average annual income of the poorest 10pc has increased by less than three dollars (€2.60) a year over the past 25 years.

Oxfam said action on tax should form part of a three-pronged approach, alongside increased investment in public services and action to boost the income of the lowest-paid.

Irish Independent

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