Number of billionaires doubled since financial crisis: report

January 22,2019

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ISLAMABAD: Oxfam’s global inequality report on Monday revealed that the number of billionaires had almost doubled since the financial crisis, with a new billionaire created every two days between 2017 and 2018.

Twenty-six of the richest people owned the same wealth as the 3.8 billion people, who make up the poorest half of humanity and the super-rich hid $7.6 trillion from tax authorities depriving developing countries of $170b a year, the report added.

Oxfam’s global inequality report was launched at a ceremony jointly organised here by Oxfam and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Public Good or Private Wealth shows the growing gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies and fuelling public anger across the globe, the report said.

The report revealed inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, on the one hand, while under taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax dodging, on the other. It found that women and girls were hardest hit by rising economic inequality.

In his welcome remarks, Oxfam in Pakistan’s Country Director Muhammad Qazilbash said, “The key themes of the global report are: economic inequality; tax-individual and corporate; gender; negative impact of inequality and underfunded public services, and public services as a way for more gender equality and as a way out of the inequality crisis we are witnessing."

There was a need for delivering free healthcare, education and other public services that also worked for women and girls, he added.

Qazilbash said in Pakistan, we should ensure social protection for all and design all services to ensure they also cater to women and girls.

Inequality, he said, is a man-made disaster effecting billions of people. During the panel discussion on inequality, renowned economist Dr Kaiser Bengali said the richest people in the country continued to enjoy booming fortunes with lowest levels of tax. "Wealth is particularly under taxed,” he noted.

Other panellists, including Dr Ikramul Haq and Musharraf Zaidi, shared their opinions on the effects of inequality in public services and education.

Speaking on global inequality, Oxfam’s Asia Inequality Campaign Lead Mustafa Talpur said, “We are calling on governments to reduce the unpaid hours women spend taking care of their families and transform our economies to deliver universal health, education and other public services.

"To make it possible, he added, the richest people and corporations should pay their fair share of tax," he said.

“This will drive a dramatic reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor, and between women and men,” he added.

The SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri said the governments should set concrete time-bound targets and action plans to reduce inequality as part of their commitments under Sustainable Development Goal 10 on inequality.


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