Call for Wealth Tax over Record Inequality; Democratic South Africa Now One of the Most Unequal Countries on the Planet, a World Bank Report Has Revealed

Cape Times (South Africa), January 22, 2019 | Go to article overview

Call for Wealth Tax over Record Inequality; Democratic South Africa Now One of the Most Unequal Countries on the Planet, a World Bank Report Has Revealed


AS THE WORLD'S high-profile chief executives gather at Davos ski resort in Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum, anti-poverty charity Oxfam said inequality was at record levels and called for a wealth tax to level the playing fields.

South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a World Bank report showing last year that inequality had deepened since the dawn of democracy.

In its latest report titled "Public Good or Private Wealth", released yesterday, Oxfam said the economy was broken with extreme poverty, while huge rewards went to those at the very top.

The report also said the wealth of the world's billionaires increased by $900 billion (R12.43 trillion), or $2.5bn a day, in the last year, while the wealth of the poorest half of humanity, 3.8 billion people, fell by 11 percent.

"Billionaires now have more wealth than ever before. Between 2017 and 2018, a new billionaire was created every two days," said the report, adding that wealth was becoming even more concentrated.

It also said last year that 26 people owned the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, down from 43 people the year before.

Mpiyakhe Dhlamini, a researcher at the Free Market Foundation, said the report contained the same flawed premise of previous reports, because it treated the notion of inequality and the notion of poverty as one of the same. Poverty and inequality are not the same thing, and the solutions to inequality are not the same things you do to solve poverty, he said.

He said inequality measured the difference in wealth between two or more individuals or groups.

"There is great inequality between someone like Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world today, and Bill Gates, who used to be the richest man. Poverty simply means that someone is incapable of providing for their own basic necessities. …

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