Oxfam report
Cover photo on the Oxfam Report titled "Public Good or Private Wealth?"

The world’s richest gained an average of Ksh250 billion per day in 2018 and are now worth significantly more than Ksh100 trillion, a study by Oxfam looking into global inequality reveals.

According to the report, the number of billionaires (individuals worth one billion US Dollars and above) has doubled since the last global financial meltdown in 2008. There are now over 2200 billionaires in the world.

In contrast, there has been an increase in the number of people who live in extreme poverty, a higher percentage of who live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Living in extreme poverty is estimated at earning around a maximum of Ksh200 per day.

The Oxfam report says the rate of reduction of poverty in the world, once marked as a key achievement of the global community, has now slowed down “drastically.”

“New evidence from the World Bank shows that the rate of poverty reduction has halved since 2013. Extreme poverty is actually increasing in sub-Saharan Africa,” the report says.

The report avers that “universal health, education and other public services reduce the gap between rich and poor, and between women and men. Fairer taxation of the wealthiest can help pay for them.”

It says 3.4 billion people on the planet are living in poverty. This amounts to nearly half the world’s total population, with the povery line now standing at around Ksh600 per day, as per revised World Bank standards for upper-middle-income countries.

The Oxfam report attributes this to “a direct result of inequality, and of prosperity accruing disproportionately to those at the top for decades.”

Majority of those living in poverty are women, “particularly during their reproductive years, because of the level of unpaid care work they are expected to do.”

Oxfam says that it is upon Governments to make the tough choices to address inequality.

“The lesson is clear: to beat poverty, we must fight inequality.”

The report comes on the sidelines of the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Simply dubbed Davos, the conference attracts the world’s top leaders to discuss global economic themes.

Oxfam, which has been releasing an inequality report since 2014 so as to encourage conversation, made reccomendations in its survey which it says will hopefully lead to eradication of inequality.

Among its recommendations is for governments to ensure they deliver universal free health care, education and other public services that also work for women and girls.

“Stop supporting privatization of public services. Provide pensions, child benefits and other social protection for all,” the report says.

Oxfam also calls on authorities to “free up women’s time by easing the millions of unpaid hours they spend every day caring for their families and homes.”

“Let those who do this essential work have a say in budget decisions and make freeing up women’s time a key objective of government spending. Invest in public services including water, electricity and childcare that reduce the time needed to do this unpaid work. Design all public services in a way that works for those with little time to spare.”

Another recommendation is to end the under-taxation of rich individuals and corporations. To tax wealth and capital at fairer levels and to oversee the elimination of tax avoidance and evasion by corporates and the super-rich.

Oxfam says, “Agree a new set of global rules and institutions to fundamentally redesign the tax system to make it fair, with developing countries having an equal seat at the table.”

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