‘The world’s 26 richest people own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity’ –Davos, Switzerland (AFP)

The world’s billionaires are growing $2.5 billion richer every day, while the poorest half of the global population is seeing its net worth dwindle.

The names include Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who collectively are worth $357 billion.

According to an Oxfam International report, billionaires of the century,  now have more wealth than ever before, with a number of record 2,208. Since the global financial crisis a decade ago, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.

The 106-page report is meant to call attention to the growing gap between rich and poor.

“People across the globe are angry and frustrated”  – Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam executive director

As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.

Among the findings of the report were:

  • In the 10 years since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.
  • Between 2017 and 2018 a new billionaire was created every two days.
  • The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to $112bn. Just 1% of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.
  • The poorest 10% of Britons are paying a higher effective tax rate than the richest 10% (49% compared with 34%) once taxes on consumption such as VAT are taken into account.

The report noted that about 10,000 people per day die for lack of healthcare and there were 262 million children not in school, often because their parents were unable to afford the fees, uniforms or textbooks.

Oxfam said governments needed to focus on more to fund high-quality, universal public services through tackling tax dodging and ensuring fairer taxation, including on corporations and the richest individuals’ wealth, which it said were often undertaxed.

 

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