Billionaires’ wealth increased by $3.9 trillion during pandemic, while millions slipped into poverty: Oxfam
Statistically, an unskilled worker would take a whopping 10,000 years to make as much money as Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani made in an hour during the pandemic, the Oxfam report said
A report, titled ‘The Inequality Virus’, to be tabled by non-profit group Oxfam at the Davos summit, says that the wealth of billionaires worldwide increase by $3.9 trillion between March 18 and December 31 last year, while the COVID pandemic was raging, even as an estimated 200 million and 500 million people slipped into poverty.
"Worldwide, billionaires' wealth increased by a staggering $3.9 trillion between March 18 and December 31, 2020... The world's 10 richest billionaires have seen their wealth increase by $540 billion over this period," it said, as per media reports.
"At the same time, the pandemic saw hundreds of millions of people lose their jobs and face destitution and hunger... It is estimated that the total number of people living in poverty could have increased by between 200 million and 500 million," it added.
“India’s 100 billionaires have seen their fortunes increase by Rs 12,97,822 crores since March 2020, enough to give every one of the 138 million poorest Indian people a cheque for Rs 94,045 each,” it said.
The non-profit group said top India billionaires saw an exponential rise in wealth since March last year. In a stark contrast, data shows that 1,70,000 people in India lost their jobs every hour in the month of April 2020, the report noted.
Statistically, an unskilled worker would take a whopping 10,000 years to make as much money as Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani made in an hour during the pandemic. Further, it would take the same person three years to make what one of Asia’s richest men Mukesh Ambani made in a second, according to Oxfam’s report.
"The pandemic has exposed the fact that most people on Earth - who live on between $2 and $10 per day - are just one pay check away from penury," Oxfam said, “while those with billions in their pockets purchased private jets when commercial travel was banned”.
According to the report, the increase in the wealth - just since the crisis began - of the world's 10 richest billionaires is "more than enough to prevent anyone on Earth from falling into poverty because of the virus, and to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone".
"The coronavirus crisis has shown us that for most of humanity there has never been a permanent exit from poverty and insecurity... makes no common, moral or economic sense to allow billionaires to profit from the crisis in the face of such suffering," the report said.
"Their increasing wealth should be used instead to save millions of lives and billions of livelihoods."
The report also stressed that women, people of colour and those from marginalised communities were among the worst affected.
Published: 25 Jan 2021, 12:00 PM