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Covid creates new billionaire every 30 hours

One million people pushed into extreme poverty in every 33 hours; Billionaires’ wealth rose more in the first 24 months of Covid-19 than in 23 years combined: Oxfam at Davos

Covid creates new billionaire every 30 hours

Covid creates new billionaire every 30 hours

Rich gets richer

- 2,668 billionaires, 573 more than in 2020, own $12.7 trn

- It's an increase of $3.78 trn

- Total wealth of world's billionaires accounts for 13.9% of global GDP as against 4.4% in 2000

- World's top-10 own more wealth than bottom 40% of humanity or 3.1 bn people

- Corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors posting record-high profits

- 40 new pharma billionaires emerged during pandemic period

- Pharma majors charging governments up to 24x more than the potential cost of generic production

- Moderna and Pfizer making $1,000 profit every second just from their monopoly control of the Covid-19 vaccine

- 87% of people in low-income countries have still not been fully vaccinated

- 2% wealth tax on millionaires and 5% on billionaires could generate $2.52 trn a year

- It'll be enough to lift 2.3 bn people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries

Davos: As the rich and powerful from across the globe gather here for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 (WEF-2022), Oxfam International on Monday said the Covid-19 pandemic has seen one new billionaire emerging every 30 hours, while nearly one million people could be pushed into extreme poverty every 33 hours this year.

Releasing a report titled 'Profiting from Pain' here in Davos, the rights group further said as the cost of essential goods rises faster than it has in decades, billionaires in the food and energy sectors are increasing their fortunes by $1 billion every two days. The WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private partnership, is hosting its annual meeting in Davos after a gap of more than two years.

"Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes. The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them. 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," said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

The report showed that 573 people became new billionaires during the pandemic, at the rate of one every 30 hours. "We expect this year that 263 million more people will crash into extreme poverty, at a rate of a million people every 33 hours," Oxfam International said.

Billionaires' wealth has risen more in the first 24 months of Covid-19 than in 23 years combined. The total wealth of the world's billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9 per cent of global GDP, marking a three-fold increase from 4.4 per cent in 2000, it added. Bucher further said billionaires' fortunes have not increased because they are now smarter or working harder.

"Workers are working harder, for less pay and in worse conditions. The super-rich have rigged the system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits. They have seized a shocking amount of the world's wealth as a result of privatization and monopolies, gutting regulation and workers' rights, while stashing their cash in tax havens -- all with the complicity of governments," she added.

Bucher further said, "Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heating, falling behind on bills and wondering what they can possibly do next to survive. Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity. It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous. This is inequality that literally kills."

Oxfam's new research also showed that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors -- where monopolies are especially common -- are posting record-high profits, even as wages have barely budged and workers struggle with decades-high prices amid Covid-19. According to the report, five of the largest energy companies -- BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron -- are together making $2,600 profit every second, and there are now 62 new food billionaires. Together with just three other companies, the Cargill family controls 70 per cent of the global agricultural market and the family alone now has 12 billionaires, up from eight before the pandemic. From Sri Lanka to Sudan, record-high global food prices are sparking social and political upheaval, while 60 per cent of low-income countries are on the brink of debt distress. ''While inflation is rising everywhere, price hikes are particularly devastating for low-wage workers whose health and livelihoods were already most vulnerable to Covid-19, particularly women, racialized and marginalized people. People in poorer countries spend more than twice as much of their income on food than those in rich countries,'' Oxfam said.

It further said that 2,668 billionaires - 573 more than in 2020 - own $12.7 trillion, an increase of $3.78 trillion, while the world's ten richest men own more wealth than the bottom 40 per cent of humanity or 3.1 billion people. It said the richest 20 billionaires are worth more than the entire GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Barun Jha
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