Poverty prevalent in the world
According to the World Bank, more than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty today earning less than $1.9/day and every ninth person goes to bed hungry.
What is Oxfam?
- Oxfam International is a confederation of 17 organisations which works with local communities to eradicate poverty.
- Formed in 1995, it is today present in more than 90 countries with its secretariat based out of Oxford, UK.
- It tries to empower people by eradicating injustice of poverty through rights based sustainable development approach, humanitarian assistance, public education, campaigns, etc.
Important highlights of the report
- The Oxfam report titled 'An Economy for the 1%' highlights that the divide between rich and poor is widening at an alarming pace as the wealth is getting more and more concentrated in fewer hands.
- With around 30% of the African wealth held offshore (costing government $14 billion/year), the report asks governments to clamp down global tax heavens to address this increasing inequality.
What are tax heavens?
- Tax havens are countries which have very low taxes and systems of financial secrecy which is used for circumventing taxes.
- Examples include Ireland, Netherlands, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, etc.
- It is estimated that $7.6 trillion is sheltered in tax havens.
- Thus, tax havens deprive the poor countries of resources to fight poverty as money is siphoned out from these poor countries into tax havens.
Inequality: not just in income
According to World Bank, in 2013, a person in Hong Kong, a tax haven, is expected to live for 84 years against a mere 50 years in Central African Republic, a Sub-Sharan African country.
Wealthiest 62 persons as rich as half of world
- An Oxfam study has found that in 2015, the richest 62 people owned the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people.
- The study highlights that since 2010 the wealth of richest 62 people has increased by 44% to $1.76 trillion while that of poorest half has declined by 41%.
- Back in 2010, 388 people owned the same wealth as half of humanity.
Agenda to fight inequality ahead of WEF 2016
- Oxfam, ahead of the World Economic Forum has presented a 7 point agenda to fight inequality: crack-down on tax havens, investing in universal public services such as education, etc and sharing tax burden fairly.
- Introducing minimum wages for workers and equal pay for equal work to ensure gender equality,
- Adequate social safety nets for the poor, and accepting a global goal for fighting inequality.