Irish billionaires made 18 billion euro during the Covid-19 pandemic
The 10 richest men in the world doubled their fortunes while incomes of 99% of humanity fell.
Ireland’s nine billionaires have increased their wealth by €18.3 billion to €49.7 billion since the start of the pandemic.
The statistic was published by Oxfam in its Inequality Kills report on Monday (17 January).
According to the report, the total wealth of Ireland's billionaires increased by 58% in the past two years.
The Inequality Kills report details how inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.
The information is based on deaths globally from lack of access to healthcare, gender-based violence, hunger and climate breakdown.
Globally, the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes from €610 billion to €1.3 trillion —at a rate of €1.13billion a day — during the two years of the pandemic to date.
— Oxfam Ireland (@OxfamIreland) January 17, 2022
Billionaires across the globe, meanwhile, have increased their wealth by €4.35 trillion.
In the same two years, incomes for 99% of humanity have stagnated or fallen, and over 160 million people were forced into poverty.
Oxfam is calling for wealth taxes around the world to help in the recovery for those most affected by the pandemic.
A 1.5% wealth tax on Irish millionaires who own over €4 million could raise €4 billion in tax, Oxfam says, and a similar tax on billionaires alone could raise €700 million.
“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic," Oxfam Ireland’s CEO, Jim Clarken, said.
"Central banks pumped trillions of euros into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom.
“Now is the time to redress that imbalance through progressive wealth taxes, along with other progressive measures such as debt relief and cancellation.
"Within the EU, the Irish Government could lead by example by introducing a wealth tax of 1.5% on the very wealthiest, which would have a positive effect on Ireland’s society as it recovers from the pandemic.
“It is right that we should ask those that have gained most from the pandemic to contribute to the recovery.
"The funds generated by a wealth tax could have a transformative effect on funding Ireland’s recovery from the pandemic and could be targeted at those areas most in need – homeless people and people trapped in the increasing poverty trap of private rental accommodation, especially lone parents.
"It could be used to modernise our struggling health system and fund a just transition to a zero-carbon society.
"It would also enable Ireland to meet our long-standing commitment to spend 0.7% of our gross national income on overseas development assistance.
“Progressive wealth taxes at a global level could have a similar galvanizing effect.
"We can choose a global economy centred on equality in which nobody lives in poverty, in which everyone has the chance to thrive.
"Governments must act now to claw back the exponential rise in billionaire wealth during Covid-19 by implementing solidarity taxes to fight inequality,” he added.
The report also details the impact of vaccine inequality, where developing countries have been denied access to enough vaccines.
“Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people," Jim Clarken said.
"This is having life and death consequences around the world.
“The world’s response to the pandemic has unleashed this economic violence, particularly acutely across racial, marginalised and gendered lines.
"As Covid-19 spikes, this turns to surges of gender-based violence, even as more unpaid care is heaped upon women and girls.
"Most poignantly, following the horrific recent murder in Tullamore, the Inequality Kills report shows that violence against women has soared during the pandemic.
"Yet gender-based violence has accounted for only 0.0002% of global pandemic response funding.”
The report in full can be read here.