The COVID pandemic continues to increase inequality in the world. The ten richest men have doubled their fortune from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion during the first two years of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the income of 99% of humanity has worsened with COVID, which has pushed more than 160 million people into poverty. This is one of the conclusions of the Oxfam Intermón report inequalities kill, published this Monday on the occasion of the “Davos Agenda” from the World Economic Forum.
The pandemic triggers severe poverty in Spain and already reaches six million people, the highest figure since 2007
Since the start of the pandemic, billionaires worldwide have increased their fortunes by five trillion dollars, more than in the last 14 years accumulated. This is the largest increase in the wealth of billionaires since records began, according to the NGO study. The magnitude of wealth accumulation is such that if an exceptional tax of 99% were applied on the change in wealth generated since the start of the pandemic for the ten richest men, “the COVID vaccine for the entire world” could be financed. world in addition to universal health and social protection services, provide resources for the necessary climate adaptation measures and reduce gender-based violence in more than 80 countries,” Oxfam said. Even if they paid this tax, these men would still have $8 billion more than before the pandemic, according to the NGO.
“There are those who have had a luxury pandemic. While the central banks and the governments of the rich countries injected trillions of dollars to save the economy, a large part seems to have ended up in the pockets of the richest who have taken advantage of the boom in stock markets and other assets. The result, more wealth for a few and more public debt for all. It is estimated that inequality between countries will grow for the first time in a generation. Vaccines are an imperative and a minimum condition necessary for any country can face recovery since there are still millions of people in the world who do not have access to even a dose”, says Franc Cortada, director of Oxfam Intermón.
“If these ten men lost 99.999% of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99% of the people on the planet,” underlines Cortada: “Currently, they accumulate six times more wealth than the 3.1 billion poorest people in the world together”.
The NGO uses sources from institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, Crédit Suisse or the World Economic Forum that have estimated that the pandemic has caused an increase in inequalities within countries around the world. Since the start of the pandemic, a new billionaire has emerged in the world every 26 hours while more than 160 million people have fallen into poverty.
This small and elite club of billionaires is made up of 2,775 people, who have seen their wealth grow more during the pandemic than in the last 14 years. According to Oxfam Intermon, this is the largest annual increase in the wealth of billionaires since records began, and it is happening on every continent on the planet.
The strong increase in the wealth of this group of people is due, according to the NGO, “to the exorbitant increase in the prices of the stock markets, the rise of unregulated entities, the rise of monopoly power and privatization, together with the erosion of regulations, tax rates for individuals and companies and labor rights and wages; all of this propitiated by the instrumentalization of racism”.
In the case of Spain, during the first year of the pandemic alone, more than a million people found themselves in a situation of severe material deprivation. Meanwhile, since the start of the pandemic, the 23 main Spanish billionaires have seen their wealth grow by 29%.
These inequalities have a serious impact on the lives of thousands of people. The Intermón report details that “fighting against inequalities would prevent the death of 21,000 people a day, or put another way, one person every four seconds” due to lack of access to health services, gender violence, hunger and the climate crisis.
“Governments around the world must ensure that the richest people and companies pay the taxes that are justly theirs and invest these resources in universal health services and social protection, in measures to adapt to climate change, and in the prevention of gender-based violence, as well as ensure universal access to vaccines against COVID19. Also, it is essential define policies that guarantee that women, people of color and other oppressed groups are represented in all decision-making spaces”, underlines Cortada.
Given this situation, Intermón Oxfam asks the Spanish Government to “advance in the progressivity and sufficiency of the Spanish tax system as a whole”, which guarantees that the European recovery funds “are a real and effective opportunity to reduce inequalities, combat the effects of climate change and benefit the population that is in greater risk of vulnerability”, in addition to “strengthening social protection policies” and “continuing to improve investment in health and education”.