Report by UK charity Oxfam calls for a crackdown on tax havens as the world's wealthiest hide $7.6 trillion from taxes.
The world's richest 62 people now own as much wealth as half of the world's population, according to a report by the charity Oxfam.
Super-rich individuals saw an increase of 44 percent since 2010, taking their cumulative wealth to $1.76 trillion - equivalent to the total owned by 3.5 billion of the world's poorest people.
The UK-based charity on Monday also said tax havens were helping corporations and individuals to stash away about $7.6 trillion, depriving governments of $190bn in tax revenue every year.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia's chief executive, said that there were no appropriate mechanisms to check if wealth was being shared appropriately.
"We believe there is a need for commitments from global business leaders and political leaders for major tax reform to get rid of the tax havens," Szoke said.
"There's too much leakage of what should be paid in taxation exacerbating this gap [between rich and poor]."
Referring to economic growth in Western countries, such as her native Australia, Szoke said little wealth was reaching the impoverished.
"The startling figure in our domestic context in Australia is that where there has been wealth generation in the past decade, none of that has actually trickled down to some of the Australians who are poor."
Lack of action
Oxfam said wealth was being concentrated in the hands of increasingly fewer people, while the world's poorest continued to get poorer. In 2010 some 388 people owned as much as the world's poorest 50 percent.
Mark Goldring, Oxfam chief executive in the United Kingdom, said that the stated concern of world leaders over escalating inequality was not being matched with action.
"It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich, so few you could fit them all on a single coach.
"In a world where one in nine people goes to bed hungry every night, we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever-bigger slice of the cake," Goldring said.
The organisation is calling on world leaders meeting for the World Economic Forum in the Swiss city of Davos later this month to crack down on tax havens, ensure fair wages, and invest in public services.
Richest 1% Now Wealthier Than the Rest of the World, Oxfam Says
By Simon Kennedy
The richest 1 percent is now wealthier than the rest of humanity combined, according to Oxfam, which called on governments to intensify efforts to reduce such inequality.
In a report published on the eve of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the anti-poverty charity cited data from Credit Suisse Group AG in declaring the most affluent controlled most of the world’s wealth in 2015. That’s a year earlier than it had anticipated.
Oxfam also calculated that 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.5 billion people, the bottom half of the global population, compared with 388 individuals five years earlier. The wealth of the most affluent rose 44 percent since 2010 to $1.76 trillion, while the wealth of the bottom half fell 41 percent or just over $1 trillion.
The charity used the statistics to argue that growing inequality poses a threat to economic expansion and social cohesion. Those risks have already been noted in countries from the U.S. to Spain, where voters are increasingly backing populist political candidates, while it’s sown tensions on the streets of Latin America and the Middle East.
“It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world’s population owns no more than a few dozen super-rich people who could fit onto one bus,” said Winnie Byanima, executive director of Oxfam International. “World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action.”
Oxfam said governments should take steps to reduce the polarization, estimating tax havens help the rich to hide $7.6 trillion. Politicians should agree on a global approach to ending the practice of using offshore accounts, it said.
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