Oxfam Report: Profiting from Pain

According to a report titled ‘Profiting from Pain’ by Oxfam International, during the Covid-19 pandemic a new billionaire emerged every 30 hours, while a million people might slip into extreme poverty every 33 hours during this same time period. The report was released at the World Economic Forum, Davos, and the organization further highlighted that the cost of essential goods is rising faster than it has been witnessed in decades. The billionaires in the energy and food sectors are witnessing a rise in their fortunes by USD 1 billion every two days.

How many people became billionaires during the pandemic?

The report has highlighted that 573 people achieved the billionaire status during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, this year 263 million more people will be falling into the threshold of extreme poverty. In the first 24 months of the pandemic, the wealth of the billionaires has risen more than what was witnessed in 23 years. The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires currently is equivalent to 13.9 percent of the global GDP, a three-fold increase from the 4.4 percent recorded in 2000.

How does the report lay down a comparison between the wealthy and the poor?

The fortunes of the billionaires have not increased due to them working hard or in a smart manner, but because the workers are being worked harder in worse conditions with lesser pay. The system has been rigged by the wealthy without facing any punishment for decades and the benefits of this are now being reaped by them. A huge amount of the planet’s wealth has been seized by them due to monopolies, privatization, not adhering to the right of the workers, and stashing their cash in tax havens without facing any forms of repercussion. Compared to the billionaires, millions of others are having to skip their meals, falling into debt, and trying to come up with ways to put food on their tables. This inequality is harmful to humans as well as the planet as it is dangerous and corrosive. The new report has also highlighted that the organizations in the food, energy, and pharmaceutical sectors are witnessing record-high profits, even as the workers are struggling due to low income and facing a high level of inflation.

What does this report say about rising food prices?

According to this report, currently, there are 62 new food billionaires. Also, the Cargill family along with three other companies controls 70 percent of the global agricultural market due to which their profits are ever-increasing. While, from Sudan to Sri Lanka, the surge in global food prices is sparking social and political unrest.

What does the report say about the wealth owned by the world’s billionaires?

The report said that 2,668 of the world’s billionaires own USD 12.7 trillion while the ten richest men in the world own more wealth than 3.1 billion people or the bottom 40 percent of the population. The 20 richest billionaires have wealth that is more than Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

How many pharma billionaires have been created during the pandemic?

According to the report, 40 new pharma billionaires have come up during the pandemic. Every second, organizations such as Pfizer and Moderna are making USD 1,000 profit just from their monopoly of COVID-19 vaccines, despite the development of the vaccines being supported by billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

What has Oxfam recommended to the governments?

Oxfam has recommended that governments across the globe must introduce one-off solidarity taxes on the wealth amassed by the billionaires during the pandemic and put that money to use on schemes that will help the people face rising energy and food costs. Oxfam also suggested crisis profiteering by big corporations must be checked by introducing a temporary excess profit tax. The governments have also been asked by the group to introduce permanent wealth taxes so that the carbon emissions of the super-rich can be checked.

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