The pandemic has made the rich richer while the income of the rest of the world — about 99% of humanity — dropped, according to a new Oxfam report titled “Inequality Kills.”
The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men doubled from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion during the pandemic, the global charity said on Monday.
“It has never been so important to start righting the violent wrongs of this obscene inequality by clawing back elites’ power and extreme wealth including through taxation — getting that money back into the real economy and to save lives,” said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.
A 99% windfall tax on the pandemic gains of the world’s 10 richest men would raise enough money to pay for vaccines for the world — as well as finance various social measures for more than 80 countries, the report said.
The wealth of billionaires rose more since Covid started compared to the last 14 years, and a new billionaire was minted every 26 hours since the pandemic began, Oxfam said.
At the same time, the vast majority of the population are worse off after losing income during Covid-19, and 160 million more people fell into poverty, the release said.
One way to “claw back” the huge gains made by billionaires during the crisis is to tax the money that billionaires have made since the start of the pandemic, the report said.
“A 99% one-off windfall tax on the Covid-19 wealth gains of the 10 richest men alone would generate $812bn,” the report said.
“These resources could pay to make enough vaccines for the entire world and fill financing gaps in climate measures, universal health and social protection, and efforts to address gender-based violence in over 80 countries,” it also said.
Even after the tax, the world’s 10 richest men would still be billionaires and as a group, would have increased their wealth by $8 billion from the start of the pandemic, the report said.
“If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet,” said Bucher.
Beyond a one-off windfall tax, governments must also implement or increase permanent wealth and capital taxes to “fundamentally and radically reduce wealth inequality,” the report said.
The Oxfam report was released ahead of this week’s virtual World Economic Forum meetings, where world leaders are set to discuss global challenges.