COVID-19 Has Created A New Billionaire Every 30 Hours: Oxfam Report

OB Bureau

New Delhi: A new billionaire has emerged every 30 hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an Oxfam International report titled ‘Profiting from Pain’.

The report also says that a million people may have slipped into extreme poverty at the same pace during this period.

The ‘Profiting from Pain’ report is released when the World Economic Forum meets in Davos for the first time in person since the global coronavirus pandemic broke out more than two years ago.

According to the report, the number of billionaires in the food and energy sectors are increasing their fortunes by $1 billion every two days as cost of essential goods is rising faster than in decades.

“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes. The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have simply put, been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” Executive Director of Oxfam International Gabriela Bucher said.

As many as 573 new billionaires have been created during the pandemic.

At the other end of the spectrum, Oxfam International expects 263 million more people to crash into extreme poverty this year, “at a rate of a million people every 33 hours.”

Wealth of billionaires has risen more in 24 months of COVID-19 than in 23 years combined, the report observed.

Total wealth of the world’s billionaires currently amount to 13.9% of global GDP — a three-fold increase from 4.4% in 2000.

Five of the biggest energy companies — BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron — are making profit of $2,600 every second, while there are 62 new food billionaires.

“While inflation is rising everywhere, price hikes are particularly devastating for low-wage workers whose health and livelihoods were already most vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly women, racialized and marginalized people. People in poorer countries spend more than twice as much of their income on food than those in rich countries,” Oxfam said.

Oxfam recommended that governments should introduce one-off solidarity taxes on billionaires’ pandemic windfalls, like Argentina which has put in place a one-off special levy – millionaire’s tax’ — and is also mulling a windfall tax on energy profits.

OB Bureau

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