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World’s 26 richest own same as poorest half of people: Oxfam report
In its annual report, Oxfam International warns against a widening economic gap between the rich and the poor due to faulty tax systems in different world countries, calculating that a mere 26 billionaires owned more than 3.8 billion people last year.
The rich grew richer and poor got poorer in 2018, the international charity organization said in the report titled “Public Good or Private Wealth.”
The world’s billionaires saw their fortunes grow by $2.5 billion per day, while the bottom half of the global population saw their wealth dwindle by $500 million daily, said the report, citing information provided by Swiss bank Credit Suisse and the Forbes List of billionaires.
It added that the number of billionaires possessing as much wealth as half of the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. Their combined fortunes reached $1.4 trillion, the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest, according to the figures.
In 2016, the number stood at 61.
The report was released on Monday as political and business leaders are set to gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
It revealed how governments were exacerbating inequality among the masses by increasingly underfunding public services like healthcare and education at the same time as they consistently under-tax the wealthy.
“Our economy is broken, with hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top,” Oxfam said. “Governments face a stark choice today — a choice between a life of dignity for all their citizens or continued extreme wealth for a tiny few.”
The report also said women and girls were the social group the hardest hit by the frightening increase in the economic gap.
Oxfam recommended that nations tax the wealthy fairer, raise rates on personal income and corporate taxes and stop tax dodging by firms and wealthy individuals.
The charity organization also advocates providing universal free health care, education and other public services including water and electricity.
It also suggests providing free childcare to free up mothers’ schedules.
The charity said that the United States played a big role in the current dire situation with most of the world’s mega-wealthy living there.
Super-rich people like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who are collectively worth $357 billion, are all Americans.
The combined fortunes of the world’s 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.