Friday, March 5

Oxfam: Covid condemns billions to poverty for a decade

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The Covid-19 crisis is aggravating inequality, with the richest quickly getting richer while it will likely take years for the world’s poorest to recover, anti-poverty group Oxfam said today.

In a report entitled “The inequality virus”, the group warned that the pandemic is the first time since records began that inequality is rising in virtually every country at the same time.

“The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months, but it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover,” said the Oxfam report.

Oxfam also highlighted the fact that the impact of the virus is also being felt unevenly, with ethnic minorities in certain countries dying at higher rates and women being overrepresented in the sectors of the economy that are hardest hit by the pandemic.

The report is timed to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos event: an entire week of global programming will be dedicated to helping leaders choose innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year.

Oxfam argued in its report that fairer economies are the key to a rapid economic recovery from Covid-19.

It calculated that a temporary tax on excess profits made by the 32 global corporations that have gained the most during the pandemic could have raised US$104 billion (RM420 billion) in 2020, an amount it said was enough to have provided unemployment benefits for all workers and financial support for all children and elderly people in low- and middle-income countries.

“Extreme inequality is not inevitable, but a policy choice,” said Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International.

“The fight against inequality must be at the heart of economic rescue and recovery efforts” with investments in public services financed by a tax system where the richest individuals and corporations pay their fair share.