Global charity group Oxfam has released a new report highlighting the widening poverty gap in the world.
According to the group, where in 2016 only 62 super wealthy individuals own the same wealth as 3.5 billion people.
Despite the efforts and workshops the world’s richest people engage in to eradicate poverty – there has been little action from these groups to stop adverse practices like holding wealth offshore, in tax havens.
“We need to end the era of tax havens which has allowed rich individuals and multinational companies to avoid their responsibilities to society by hiding ever increasing amounts of money offshore,” said Oxfam GB CEO, Mark Goldring.
Globally, it is estimated that super-rich individuals have stashed a total of $7.6 trillion in offshore accounts, the group said.
“If taxes were paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments every year.”
Nine out of ten World Economic Forum corporate partners have a presence in at least one tax haven, Oxfam said, and it is estimated that tax dodging by multinational corporations costs developing countries at least $100 billion every year.
Corporate investment in tax havens increased almost quadrupled between 2000 and 2014 – and Africa is one of the continents hardest-hit by tax evasion.
Africa’s “missing” wealth
According to Oxfam’s numbers, as much as 30% of all African financial wealth is estimated to be held off-shore, which costs about $14 billion in lost tax revenue each year.
“This is enough money to pay for healthcare for mothers and children that could save 4 million children’s lives a year and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school,” the group said.
Goldring called for governments to commit to recover the billions lost to tax havens – but to also commit to invest in healthcare, schools and other public services that make a difference to the world’s poorest.
“Ending extreme poverty requires world leaders to tackle the growing gap between the richest and the rest which has trapped hundreds of millions of people in a life of poverty, hunger and sickness.”
“It is no longer good enough for the richest to pretend that their wealth benefits the rest of us when the facts show that the recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the poorest,” he said.