The net worth of the five richest men has more than doubled since 2020 while nearly five billion people have been made poorer, an Oxfam report has revealed. The profound economic disparity is illustrated by the fact that while 148 top corporations amassed an astonishing $1.8 trillion in profits, marking a 52 per cent increase compared to the three-year average, hundreds of millions faced cuts in real-term pay.

The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities runs from January 15 to 19.(Bloomberg)

The report titled ‘Inequality Inc.’ was published on Monday as the global elite starts hobnobbing at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

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One alarming statistic from the study indicates that for every $100 of profit generated by 96 major corporations between July 2022 and June 2023, an overwhelming $82 was distributed to affluent shareholders.

The report also estimates the imminent emergence of the world’s first trillionaire within the next decade, juxtaposed against a stark projection that it would take more than two centuries to eradicate global poverty.

“We’re witnessing the beginnings of a decade of division, with billions of people shouldering the economic shockwaves of pandemic, inflation and war, while billionaires’ fortunes boom. This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else,” said Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar.

“Runaway corporate and monopoly power is an inequality-generating machine: through squeezing workers, dodging tax, privatizing the state, and spurring climate breakdown, corporations are funneling endless wealth to their ultra-rich owners. But they’re also funneling power, undermining our democracies and our rights. No corporation or individual should have this much power over our economies and our lives —to be clear, nobody should have a billion dollars”.

Oxfam, a confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations, has called on governments to resist the ultra-rich’s influence over tax policy. To address the imbalance, the charity also called for a wealth tax on the world’s millionaires and billionaires that it says could bring in $1.8 trillion dollars each year.

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