Global inequality widens rich-poor gap, says Oxfam
Bengaluru, Jan 16 (IANS) Global inequality in sharing resources and wealth distribution is widening the gap between the rich and the poor worldwide, said the British international confederation Oxfam on Monday.
“The richest one per cent have more wealth than the rest of the world combined. Power and privilege are being used to skew the economic system to increase the gap between the richest and the rest,” the confederation said in a report ahead of the four-day World Economic Forum annual meeting at Davos in Switzerland from Tuesday.
Noting that a global network of tax havens enables the richest individuals to hide $7.6 trillion, the report said the fight against poverty would not be won until the inequality crisis was tackled.
“A huge gap between the super rich and poor across the world traps millions in poverty, fracturing societies and undermining democracy,” said the report.
Cautioning the world leaders about the inequality crisis, Oxfam said large corporations and world’s top leaders play a key role in widening the rich-poor gap globally.
“Super-rich people use tax havens to avoid paying fair share of tax, drive down wages for workers and the prices paid to producers and investing less in their business,” claimed the world body, which is focused on poverty alleviation.
Observing that eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, the report observed that none of them had earned fortune through talent or hard work, but by inheritance or accumulation through industries, prone to corruption and cronyism.
“Seven out of 10 people in a country have seen a rise in inequality over the last 30 years. The richest are accumulating wealth at such an astonishing rate that the world could see its first trillionaire in 25 years,” said the release.
Admitting that global inequality was having a huge impact on women’s lives, the study found that women, facing discrimination in the work place often find themselves at the bottom of the pile. On current trends, it will take 170 years for women to be paid the same as men.
“Corporate tax dodging costs poor countries at least $100 billion every year. The amount is enough to provide education for 124 million children who are not in school,a pointed out the report.
The per capita income of the top one per cent increased from over $38,000 in 2005 purchasing power parity to $49,800 while that of the bottom 10 percent increased from $196 to $261.
Although both groups experienced the same percentage of income growth over the period, the $65 per capita increase for the bottom 10 per cent was dwarfed by the increase for the top 1 per cent, which was 182 times greater.
“The average wealth of each adult belonging to the richest 1 per cent is $1.7 million i.e., 300 times greater than the wealth of the average person in the poorest 90 per cent, although for many people in the bottom 10 per cent their wealth is zero or negative,” revealed the report.
Asserting that it was not in rich countries that Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are rewarded with salaries that far outstrip average incomes, the report highlighted that law makers in India passed a disclosure mandate in 2013 which required CEO-pay ratios to be made public, an important step towards informing the public about the level of inequality within companies.
“According to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the top executive in the largest cigarette manufacturer, for example, is being paid 439 times the median salary for employees at his company, while his counterpart at the top IT services firm receives 416 times as much as the average employee of that company,” cited the report.
Calling to reverse the trends through progressive policies that share economic rewards between people, rather than concentrating returns to capital the report said income and wealth invested in public services and infrastructure could be used to improve social and economic opportunities.
“We need a human economy that works for the 99 per cent of the world population and benefits everyone, not just the privileged few. A new human economy that will create better and fairer societies where workers receive decent wages, women and men get treated equally, children will have opportunities,” added the report.