Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gather

Wellington Downtown Community Ministry Director Stephanie Mc Intyre says the poor are getting poorer in real terms

Wellington Downtown Community Ministry Director Stephanie Mc Intyre says the poor are getting poorer in real terms

The richest 1 percent of Kiwis have bagged 28 percent - $42 billion - of the wealth created in a single year.

"Over the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, the wealth of Australian billionaires has increased by nearly 140% to a total of $115.4 billion past year", said Oxfam CEO Helen Szoke in a statement.

"What we're seeing is this small group of elite in places like the World Economic Forum in Davos this week having the extraordinary ability to be able to get in the ear of politicians and look at tax laws that benefit them and their shareholders - but not anything else", Ms Le Mesurier said.

Besides, 67 crore Indians comprising the population's poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1 per cent, as per the survey released by the global rights group Oxfam hours before the start of the annual congregation of the rich and powerful from across the world in this resort town.

Oxfam used its findings to paint a picture of a global economy in which the wealthy few amass ever-greater fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are "struggling to survive on poverty pay".

In particular, Byanyima criticised U.S. President Donald Trump, who is attending the World Economic Forum, for creating "a cabinet of billionaires" and implementing tax legislation that she said rewarded the super-rich, not ordinary Americans.

It says that 82 per cent of the wealth generated previous year worldwide went to 1 per cent rich people while 3.7 billion people accounting for the poorest half of population saw no increase in their wealth.

These figures were released by Oxfam today, ahead of their report Reward Work, Not Wealth to be revealed this afternoon.

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"Yet over the same time, the average wages of ordinary Australians have increased by just 36 percent and average household wealth grew by 12 percent".

Oxfam said that governments should focus on policies that would lead to fairer distribution of wealth and stronger workers' rights.

"The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system", said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International.

The survey also showed that women workers often find themselves at the bottom of the heap and nine out of 10 billionaires are men. "Women working in hotels in Canada and the Dominican Republic who stay silent about sexual harassment for fear of losing their jobs", said Le Mesurier.

RIWI and YouGov conducted the online survey for Oxfam in 10 countries: India, Nigeria, United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Morocco.

"It's hard to find a political or business leader who doesn't say they are anxious about inequality".

"Tax is one piece that New Zealanders can look at right now - what can taxes do in New Zealand to make it fairer?"

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