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9 richest Filipinos have more wealth than half of Philippine population, says new report

The poor are unable to recover from back-to-back crises as many continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic and steep prices of commodities

A new study released by aid agency Oxfam on Monday, January 16, said the nine richest Filipinos have more wealth than half of the total population of the country.

“Inequality experienced in the Philippines is starker with the 9 richest Filipinos having more wealth than the bottom half (55 million) of the population,” said Erika Geronimo, Oxfam Pilipinas executive director, in a statement.

Geronimo cited the Forbes’ Billionaires List and official data analyzed by Oxfam. She noted that since 2012, the number of those worth US$5 million and above has increased by almost half (43.5%).

“It is quite disheartening to see many are dying due to lack of health care or are experiencing hunger amid high cost of food while the rich increased their wealth during the pandemic,” she said.

Geronimo pointed out that if a wealth tax was imposed on Filipino millionaires, the country could raise US$3.8 billion a year. “This amount is enough to increase our health budget by two-fifths,” she said.

Oxfam said that in countries like the Philippines, the poor are unable to recover from back-to-back crises as many continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic and steep prices of commodities.

A new Oxfam report titled “Survival of the Richest” noted that the richest one percent grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth worth US$42 trillion created globally since 2020.

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It is almost twice as much money as the bottom 99 percent of the world’s population, showed the report that is published on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In its statement, Oxfam said that while the world’s elites are gathering at a Swiss ski resort, “extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years.”

“While ordinary people are making daily sacrifices on essentials like food, the super-rich have outdone even their wildest dreams,” said Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International.

“Just two years in, this decade is shaping up to be the best yet for billionaires — a roaring ‘20s boom for the world’s richest,” she added.

Bucher said that taxing the super-rich and big corporations is “the door out of today’s overlapping crises.”

“It’s time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow ‘trickling down’ to everyone else. Forty years of tax cuts for the super-rich have shown that a rising tide doesn’t lift all ships — just the superyachts,” she said.

The report showed that billionaires have seen extraordinary increases in their wealth.

It said that a billionaire gained roughly US$1.7 million for every $US1 of new global wealth earned by a person in the bottom 90 percent.

Billionaire fortunes have increased by US$2.7 billion a day, said the report, adding that it comes on top of a decade of historic gains when the number and wealth of billionaires doubled over the last ten years.

Billionaire wealth also surged in 2022 with rapidly rising food and energy profits. The report showed that 95 food and energy corporations have more than doubled their profits in 2022. They made US$306 billion in windfall profits, and paid out US$257 billion (84 percent) of that to rich shareholders.

Meanwhile, at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages, and over 820 million people — roughly one in ten people on Earth — are going hungry, said the report.

Oxfam called for “a systemic and wide-ranging increase in taxation of the super-rich to claw back crisis gains driven by public money and profiteering.”

“Decades of tax cuts for the richest and corporations have fueled inequality, with the poorest people in many countries paying higher tax rates than billionaires,” it said.

According to new analysis by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam and the Patriotic Millionaires, an annual wealth tax of up to 5 percent on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise US$1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty, fully fund the shortfalls on existing humanitarian appeals, deliver a 10-year plan to end hunger, support poorer countries being ravaged by climate impacts, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries.

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