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Gap between rich and poor growing, fueling global anger: Oxfam

22 January 2019

The bottom 60%, which makes up the majority of the population, holds just 4.8% of the national wealth.

"The 2017 U.S. tax bill is super-charging the worldwide tax race to the bottom and exacerbating the trend of governments dramatically cutting tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations around the world", Oxfam said the statement.

"We are seeing rich people running away with wealth and poor people sinking in poverty", Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima told AFP in an interview.

A new report from the charity, published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, also found that billionaires around the world saw their combined fortunes grow by $2.5 billion each day in 2018.

The economic divide between the world's haves and have-nots widened past year, as the planet's billionaires saw their collective wealth increase by $2.5 billion a day while humanity's poorest half saw its wealth drop by 11 percent, a report published Monday by Oxfam showed.

The World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum, will be held from January 22-25 when the world's leaders will convene to discuss some of the most pressing issues of the day. Last year, the top 26 wealthiest people owned $1.4 trillion, or as much as the 3.8 billion poorest people.

The wealth held by the poorest half of the world's population has decreased by 11 per cent between June 2017 and June 2018, the report says, citing Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report and Global Wealth Databook. There are 46 billionaires in Canada, says Forbes.

"We were realizing the fight against poverty ... is getting harder and harder because of growing inequality", said Ravon.

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"Multinational companies exploit loopholes in tax codes to shift profits to tax havens and to avoid taxes, costing developing countries an additional estimated $100bn of lost corporate income tax", it said, adding that the impact of inequality was devastating and 262 million children would not be allowed to go to school.

"Every year, we're seeing that the story is the same, but (it is also) getting worse", she said.

"We know there are very simple things that can be done to curb this trend and to make sure people that are living in extreme poverty aren't stuck there for generations and generations".

Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar after the release of the report said: "The survey reveals how governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, on the one hand, while under-taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax dodging on the other". "The top rate of personal income tax in rich countries fell from 62 percent in 1970 to just 38 percent in 2013". By especially focusing on childcare, Ravon said that communities will experience the "triple benefit" of bridging inequality between men and women, enabling more women to join the workforce and boost their economies.

But in Ontario, public services are increasingly jeopardized under Premier Doug Ford's government, she said.

In Canada, Oxfam is asking the federal government to reduce income inequality by providing more funding for child care, according to Gallant.

"There is no excuse for (public service cuts)", Ravon said. "We need economic, political, and tax reform to level the playing field if we want to restore prosperity and opportunity for all, including women, girls whose needs are so often overlooked".

Gap between rich and poor growing, fueling global anger: Oxfam