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Richest 26 People Own As Much As 3.8 Billion Poorest

21 January 2019

Noting that wealth is becoming even more concentrated, Oxfam said 26 people now own the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, down from 44 people past year.

While India's bottom half saw a mere 3% rise in wealth in 2018, the top 1% got richer by 39% and now hold over 51% of the country's wealth.

"India's combined revenue and capital expenditure of the Centre and state for medical and public health, sanitation and water supply is Rs 2,08,166 crore, less than the wealth of India's richest billionaire Mukesh Ambani at Rs 2,80,700 crore", it added.

While the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth dwindle by 11%, billionaires' riches increased by 12%.

The world's richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saw his fortune increase to $112bn a year ago, Oxfam said, pointing out that just one percent of his wealth was the equivalent to the entire health budget of Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people. Oxfam said around 10,000 people die each year due to lack of healthcare, while around 262 million children are not in school because their parents can not afford the related fees, uniforms or equipment.

Citing United Nations figures, Oxfam points out that crucial public services throughout the world-including in wealthy nations like the US and the U.K. -are suffering from crippling austerity as the global financial elite and massive corporations hoard economic gains, thanks in large part to regressive government policies that allow them to pay minimal taxes and enrich executives with massive pay packages.

And in Europe, the "yellow vest" movement that has been rocking France with anti-government protests since November is demanding that President Emmanuel Macron repeal controversial cuts to wealth taxes on high earners. Meanwhile, children from poor Indian families are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than those born to affluent ones. "Conversely, when public services are neglected, poor women and girls suffer most", it said. "The top rate of personal income tax in rich countries fell from 62 percent in 1970 to just 38 percent in 2013".

"Cutting taxes on wealth predominantly benefits men who own 50 per cent more wealth than women globally, and control over 86 per cent of corporations. The corporate tax rate has been similarly slashed around the world over the past decades, with some countries now mulling over further cuts in response to the USA move to do so". In fact, the study claims that in some countries like Brazil and the United Kingdom, the richest 10% are paying a lower rate of tax than the poorest 10%.

The orthodox economic view, that imposing more taxes on the rich will harm everybody by stunting economic growth, is now being challenged by several bodies. In many countries, a decent education or quality healthcare has become a luxury only the rich can afford.

"People across the globe are angry and frustrated", Byanyim said. That's where funds raised through effective and fairer taxation can make a big difference. "The only way we can beat poverty while saving our planet is to tackle inequality", said the report.

Richest 26 People Own As Much As 3.8 Billion Poorest