New billionaire created every 30 hours during pandemic, says Oxfam International

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A new billionaire was created every 30 hours on an average during the coronavirus pandemic across the world, non-profit organisation Oxfam International said on Monday.

The organisation made the statement in a report titled “Profiting from Pain” that it released in the Swiss town of Davos. The World Economic Forum is currently holding its first in-personal annual meeting in over two years in the town. The meeting began on May 22 and will go on till May 26.

Oxfam International, in its report, said that 573 persons became new billionaires during the coronavirus pandemic, at the rate of one every 30 hours. Meanwhile, the organisation predicted that 263 million persons will fall into extreme poverty in 2022, at a rate of one million every 33 hours.

The total wealth of billionaires across the globe is now equivalent to 13.9% of the world’s gross domestic product, Oxfam International said. The organisation said that this was a three-fold increase from 2000, when the figure was 4.4%.

The wealth of billionaires from the food and energy sectors has increased by a billion dollars every two days during the pandemic, Oxfam said.

In total, there are 2,668 billionaires in the world now. The world’s ten richest men now own more wealth than the bottom 40% of the human population (3.1 billion persons), according to the organisation.

“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes,” said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International. “The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive.”

Bucher added that the fortunes of billionaires are soaring not because they are working harder, but because they have “rigged the system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits”.

Oxfam urged world leaders meeting at Davos to immediately introduce wealth taxes on millionaires to tackle “the biggest increase in extreme poverty in over 20 years”.

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