LONDON – The anti-poverty organization Oxfam on Monday called on governments to impose a 99% one-time tax on the world’s billionaires and use the money to fund the expansion of vaccine production for the poor – a part of efforts to combat global inequality widened by the coronavirus pandemic.
The super-rich have grown during the pandemic thanks to ample fiscal stimulus that pumped stocks up, the group said. Oxfam said in a report intended to inform discussions at the World Economic Forum, political and business leaders within the framework of the World Economic Forum’s virtual meeting. this week.
Oxfam International CEO Gabriela Bucher said in an interview: “The pandemic has been a billionaire. “As governments did the bailouts and pumped trillions into the economy and financial markets to support the economy for all, what happened was a lot of it went into pockets of billionaires.”
Vaccine development is one of the pandemic’s success stories, but Bucher said it has been “hoarded” by rich countries that seek to protect drug monopolies.
Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, a new billionaire has been added almost every day. The wealth of the 10 richest men in the world – including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates – has more than doubled to $1.5 trillion, making them six times richer than the poor 3.1 billion world, Oxfam said.
Meanwhile, more than 160 million people have fallen into poverty during the pandemic, Oxfam said, citing numbers from Forbes’ 2021 Billionaires List, the Global Wealth Databook, Oxfam said. by Credit Suisse and the World Bank.
Oxfam urged rich countries to drop intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to expand their production.
A one-time 99 percent tax on the 10 richest men during the pandemic could raise more than $800 billion and be used to fund that effort and other progressive social spending, the group said. , the group said.
“This money will be able to pay for a vaccine for the whole world, with a health system for everyone,” Bucher said. “We will also be able to offset the damage caused by climate change and have policies in place to address gender-based violence,” she added, while still making 10 billionaires $8 billion richer than they are. the beginning of the pandemic.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The group noted that the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, are beginning to consider policies to combat inequality, such as raising tax rates on the rich and taking action against corporations. monopoly company.
“The problem is that extreme inequality is not inevitable and this is why it gives us hope,” says Bucher.
Oxfam has long sought to inspire debate at the annual meeting of business and political elites usually held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. The pandemic forced organizers to postpone the event for a second year, instead holding virtual sessions where political leaders will join business executives and advocacy groups like Oxfam.