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Oxfam: 82% of last year's wealth went to richest 1%

Oxfam activists stage a happening mimicking wealthy people hiding their money in tax haven, on December 5, 2017 near the European institutions in Brussels, within a meeting of European Union ministers over a credible blacklist of non-EU tax havens. (Photo by AFP)

A new Oxfam report has revealed that the world’s richest people gained more than eighty percent of the wealth created last year, singling out US President Donald Trump’s “cabinet of billionaires” for failing ordinary American taxpayers.

“Last year, 82 percent of the total wealth created was captured by the top 1 percent, and the bottom 50 percent of the world - 3.7 billion people - got nothing,” according to the inequality report, published by Oxfam on Monday.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director, said the report titled Reward Work, not Wealth reveals “how our economies are rewarding wealth rather than the hard work of millions of people, ensuring that the few at the top get richer and richer, and the millions at the bottom are trapped in poverty wages.”

The report, released just hours before world and business leaders meet at 2018's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, cited “tax dodging” as a major cause of this global inequality, urging leaders to clamp down on tax havens and invest money into education, healthcare and jobs for young people.

“Developing countries lose 100 billion dollars every year through tax dodging that is routed through tax havens. That is money that should be paying for education of children, health, young people’s jobs. But it is all stashed away in tax havens, untaxed,” it added.

The report further called on government leaders to “get behind stopping tax dodging and they must invest that money in the health and education of children so that they can become productive people in future.”

In particular, Byanyima criticized US President Donald Trump, who is attending the World Economic Forum, for creating “a cabinet of billionaires” and implementing tax legislation that she said rewarded the super-rich, not ordinary Americans.

A woman, who has multiple sclerosis (MS) and fears for her finances, holds a protest outside of Trump Tower over the Republican administration’s proposed tax cut which many economists predict will benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class on November 30, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

“The economic model is not working at all,” Oxfam report co-author, Inigo Macias Aymar said. “The way this wealth is being distributed we are really worried, it's being concentrated in fewer hands.”

Oxfam said that women workers were worst hit by global inequality as they consistently earn less than men and usually have lower paid and more insecure jobs.

The World Economic Forum has previously estimated that it would take 217 years before women earn as much as men and have equal representation in the workplace.

Oxfam called on world leaders to devise a universal basic income for all workers – regardless of their gender -- to receive a minimum living wage that would offer financial independence and freedom of choice for individuals between work and leisure, education and caring, as well as tougher rules to crackdown on tax dodging by the super rich.

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