In a world where the richest 62 people are as wealthy as half of world`s population, Oxfam tells global economy leaders at the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos, Switzerland to correct their greedy behavior.

Oxfam’s new report, “Even It up: Time to End Extreme Inequality,” advises that only higher wages, a crackdown on tax dodging and higher investment in public services can stop the widening disparity in wealth and income that is punishing the world’s poor. The report identifies the 62 richest billionaires owning as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.

In light of these findings, the report calls for urgent action to deal with a trend showing that 1% of people own more wealth than the other 99% combined. And the problem continues to deepen. In 2010, the 388 richest people owned the same wealth as the poorest 50%. This figure dropped to 80 in 2014 before falling again in 2015. Oxfam said that the wealth of the poorest 50% dropped by 41% between 2010 and 2015, despite an increase in the global population of 400m. In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 people increased by $500bn (£350bn) to $1.76tn.

Oxfam GB Executive Director Mark Goldring concluded that “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.

“World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action to ensure that those at the bottom get their fair share of economic growth. In a world where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night, we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever bigger slice of the cake.”

Despite numerous international commitments by governments, state obligations under international law and urging from such diverse figures as Pope Francis and IMF’s Christine Lagarde, Oxfam said words had not been translated into action. The organization’s prediction that the richest 1% would own the same wealth as the poorest 50% by 2016 had come true a year earlier than expected.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is convening amid fears that the turmoil in financial markets since the turn of the year may herald the start of a new phase to the global crisis that began eight years ago – this time originating in the less-developed emerging countries. The social consequences are a further concern, although not the priority for mpst WEF participants.

The problem of various types of capital flight exacerbate the economic vulnerability of particular regions. Oxfam’s report points out that, if tax were paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190bn would be available to governments every year.

The Arab World, for example, is the region most affected by capital flight [اصمار عربي]. In its current report, Oxfam cited estimates that rich individuals have ferreted $7.6tn in offshore accounts. Oxfam reports that as much as 30% of all African financial wealth was thought to be held offshore. The estimated loss of $14bn in tax revenues would be enough to pay for healthcare for mothers and children that could save 4 million children’s lives a year and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.

Download the full report

Photo: The mountain resort of Davos pictured during last year`s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 2023 January 2016. Source: AP Photo/Keystone/Laurent Gillieron.

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