Ireland's nine billionaires increased their wealth by €16 billion during Covid-19 pandemic 1 month ago

Ireland's nine billionaires increased their wealth by €16 billion during Covid-19 pandemic

Globally, billionaires' wealth increased more in the first 24 months of Covid than in the previous 23 years combined.

Irish billionaires have increased their wealth by nearly €16 billion since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The figures were published in Oxfam's 'Profiting From Pain' report on Monday and revealed that Ireland's nine billionaires increased their wealth by 55% over the past two years, bringing their total wealth to €51 billion.

In contrast, 691,587 people in Ireland experience deprivation, of which 204,710 are children.

The report also revealed that globally, billionaires' wealth has increased more in the first 24 months of Covid than it did in the previous 23 years combined.

The total wealth of billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9% of the world's GDP, up from 4.4% at the start of the millenium.

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573 people became billionaires during the pandemic, at the rate of one every 30 hours.

In 2022, it's expected that 263 million people will enter extreme poverty, at a rate of a million people every 33 hours.

The report was published ahead of the World Economic Forum's first meeting in person since the start of Covid.

“Billionaires arriving in Davos have seen an incredible surge in their fortunes," said Jim Clarken, CEO at Oxfam Ireland.

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"Simply put, the pandemic followed by the steep increases in food and energy prices have been a bonanza for them.

"Meanwhile, decades of progress on ending extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive.”

Oxfam’s research found that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors are posting record-high profits, despite wages barely changing and workers continuing to struggle with rising prices.

In Ireland, five of the biggest Irish food companies have had a total profit rise of €174 million in just one year, according to the last year of recorded profits.

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ESB, Energia, Bord Gais, SSE Airtricity and Energia Power had combined yearly profits of €280 million.

“It is unconscionable that some are profiteering from the pandemic and its aftermath while others are trying to choose between paying their energy bills or going hungry," Clarken continued.

"Billionaires’ fortunes have not increased because they are smarter or working harder. Workers are working harder, for less pay and in worse conditions.

"The super-rich have rigged the global system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits. They have seized a shocking amount of the world’s wealth as a result of privatisation and monopolies, gutting regulation and workers’ rights while stashing their cash in tax havens — all with the complicity of governments.

Oxfam recommends that the Irish Government, along with others, urgently implements a series of regulations to assist those from entering extreme poverty.

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These moves include a one-off tax on billionaires' pandemic windfalls, a temporary excess profit tax of 90%, permanent wealth taxes, and a Global Assets Registry to address extreme wealth owned by oligarchs, from Russia and beyond.

You can read the Oxfam report in full here.