The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new billionaire every 30 hours and now a million people could fall into extreme poverty at the same pace, Oxfam said on Monday as a return to the Davos summit.
The international charity said it was time to tax the rich to support the less fortunate as the global elite gathered in a Swiss mountain haven for the World Economic Forum after a two-year Covid-induced absence.
Oxfam said it expects 263 million people to sink into extreme poverty this year, at a rate of one million every 33 hours, as rising inflation adds to the crisis of cost of living on top of COVID-19.
By comparison, 573 people became a billionaire during the pandemic or every 30 hours.
“The billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate the incredible jump in their fortunes,” Oxfam Executive Director Gabriella Butcher said in a statement.
“The pandemic and now the huge increase in the prices of food and energy is a boon to them,” Butcher said.
“Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now the opposite and millions of people are only facing an improbable rise in the cost of living,” she said.
Oxfam called for an outright “solidarity tax” on the billionaires’ pandemic to support those facing rising prices, as well as a “fair and sustainable recovery” from the pandemic.
It also said the time has come to “end crisis profiteering” by introducing a “temporary additional profit tax” of 90 per cent on windfall profits of large corporations.
Oxfam said a wealth tax of two percent annually on millionaires and five percent for billionaires could generate $2.52 trillion annually.
Such a wealth tax would help lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, create enough vaccines for the world, and pay for universal health care for people in poor countries.
Oxfam made its calculations based on the Forbes billionaires list and the World Bank data.