May 2024

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Oxfam, an international group of organisations dedicated to fighting poverty, released an interesting report. The rich are becoming richer to the point where the top 62 world billionaires own as much money as half the world’s population.   

Global wealth is shifting

“Global wealth is becoming increasing concentrated among a small wealthy elite,” the report said.

In Oxfam’s previous report, the organization predicted that the top 1% would obtain over half the world’s wealth by 2016. In reality, the prediction came true a year early in 2015. The number of people living in extreme poverty has gone down; in fact, between 1990 and 2010 the number was halved. However, the gap between the rich and everyone else has widened. The report found that the average annual income of the poorest 10% rose less than $3 a year within the past quarter of a century; that is less than a cent a year.

 “Had inequality within countries not grown between 1990 and 2010, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty.”

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Simply unacceptable

Oxfam GB Chief Executive Mark Goldring said:

“It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so few, you could fit them all on a single coach.”

Tax dodging is a big part of the problem – the report estimated that extremely wealthy individuals have $7.6tr stored in offshore accounts. If the proper taxes were paid, there would be another $190bn in government revenue. This issue especially affects Africa. Oxfam said that about 30% of the African financial wealth is stored offshore, which causes approximately a $14bn loss in tax revenue. Money that could be used to improve education, healthcare, and infrastructure in African countries is instead being held by a few wealthy individuals.  

“Ending extreme poverty requires world leaders to tackle the growing gap between the richest and the rest which has trapped hundreds of millions of people in a life of poverty, hunger and sickness,” Goldring said.  He added “It is no longer good enough for the richest to pretend that their wealth benefits the rest of us when the facts show that the recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the poorest.”

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How to solve it

Oxfam has created a solution with three aspects: for governments to crack down on tax dodging, increase their investment in public services, and to take action in boosting income of people paid the least.

 “As a priority, [Oxfam] is calling for an end to the era of tax havens which has seen increasing use of offshore centres by rich individuals and companies to avoid paying their fair share to society. This has denied governments valuable resources needed to tackle poverty and inequality.”

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SEE ALSO: 24 Million Children Living In Conflict Zones Cannot Attend School.