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Oxfam: Windfall Taxes on Food Companies

FILE - A shopper is seen at a branch of South African retailer Pick n Pay in Johannesburg on October 20, 2010.
FILE - A shopper is seen at a branch of South African retailer Pick n Pay in Johannesburg on October 20, 2010.

Oxfam has found that the world's richest 1% of the global population - many due to attend the World Economic Forum at Davos this week, have roughly two-thirds of ''all new wealth created since 2020'' in its report titled "Survival of the Richest” published Monday.

“Davos is back in January. The festival of wealth is back. And we're bringing alarming new findings which show that the one percent, the richest one percent in the world have grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth created since 2020,” Oxfam America’s director of economic justice, Nabil Ahmed, told VOA.

The charity said while the world’s billionaires are becoming richer due to hikes in food and energy prices, at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages - meaning people are getting poorer.

“The current cost-of-living crisis, with spiraling food and energy prices, is also creating dramatic gains for many at the top. Food and energy corporations are seeing record profits and making record pay-outs to their rich shareholders and billionaire owners. Corporate price profiteering is driving at least 50% of inflation in Australia, the U.S. and Europe, in what is as much a ‘cost-of-profit’ crisis as a cost-of-living one,” the Oxfam report said.

According to the global charity, the source of that wealth is partly government's money pumped into the global economy to tackle the coronavirus that forced much of the world into lockdowns at the height of the pandemic 3 years ago.

“That was essential. But at the same time the ultra-wealthy were able to really ride this asset boom that resulted, the stock market boom that resulted. And without the guardrails of progressive taxation in the economy, the ultra-wealthy were really able to line their pockets,” Ahmed said.

“We were able to show how 95 food and energy corporations have actually been able to double their profits in 2022.”

Thus, Oxfam is calling for windfall taxes imposed on energy companies to be extended to food companies making big profits. It also wants a tax of up to 5% on the world’s multimillionaires and billionaires.

“The spectacular rise of wealth and income at the very top has coincided with a collapse in taxes on the richest 1%. While there are differences between countries, the general trend towards lower taxes for the rich has been remarkably similar across all regions of the world,” the report said.

“Extreme inequality is not inevitable,” Ahmed told VOA. “This isn't about nurses, teachers, the middle class. This is really about those at the very top, ensuring that they're paying far fairer taxes.”

But president of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende told the Associated Press that the annual Davos summit does benefit everyone.

“So much is at stake, we really need to find solutions on the wars and conflicts. We also have to secure that we don’t go into a recession, and we have 10 years of low growth, as we had in the 1970s. That is at stake, and we need all the stakeholders to be part of working towards a safer and more inclusive growing global economy,” he said.

Some information was sourced from The Associated Press.