Davos [Switzerland], January 25 (ANI): The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months but it could take more than a decade for the world's poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, shows a new Oxfam report released on Monday.
'The Inequality Virus' is being published on the opening day of World Economic Forum's 'Davos Agenda.'
The report says billionaires worldwide saw their wealth increase by a staggering 3.9 trillion dollars between March 18 and December 31, 2020. Their total wealth now stands at 11.95 trillion dollars which is equivalent to what G20 governments have spent in response to the pandemic.
In India, Mukesh Ambani is the richest man. Between March and October 2020, his wealth more than doubled, reaching 78.3 billion dollars, and he jumped from being the 21st richest person on Earth to the sixth richest.
During that period, the average increase in Ambani's wealth in just over four days represented more than the combined annual wages of all of Reliance Industries' 195,000 employees.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the report says, many large corporations have put profits before workers' safety, pushed costs down the supply chain and used their political influence to shape policy responses.
This has led to mega-corporations seeing their profits soar and driving up the wealth of their rich shareholders while small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and low-wage workers and women are bearing the brunt of the crisis.
While the world's billionaires keep getting richer, people living in poverty will become even poorer as a result of the coronavirus.
The report shows that Covid-19 has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began over a century ago.
Rising inequality means it could take at least 14 times longer for the number of people living in poverty to return to pre-pandemic levels than it took for the fortunes of the top 1,000, mostly white male, billionaires to bounce back.
A new global survey of 295 economists from 79 countries commissioned by Oxfam shows that 87 per cent of respondents, including Jeffrey Sachs, Jayati Ghosh and Gabriel Zucman, expect an 'increase' or a 'major increase' in income inequality in their country as a result of the pandemic.
The Oxfam's report shows how the rigged economic system is enabling a super-rich elite to amass wealth in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression while billions of people are struggling to make ends meet. It shows how the pandemic is deepening long-standing economic, racial and gender divides.
The recession is over for the richest. The world's ten richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began -- more than enough to pay for a Covid-19 vaccine for everyone and to ensure no one is pushed into poverty by the pandemic.
At the same time, the pandemic has ushered in the worst job crisis in over 90 years with hundreds of millions of people now underemployed or out of work.
"We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began. The deep divide between the rich and poor is proving as deadly as the virus," said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.
"Extreme inequality is not inevitable, but a policy choice. Governments around the world must seize this opportunity to build more equal, more inclusive economies that end poverty and protect the planet," she said.
"These measures must not be band-aid solutions for desperate times but a 'new normal' in economies that work for the benefit of all people, not just the privileged few," said Bucher. (ANI)