Ireland’s nine billionaires have increased their wealth by 58% to €49.7bn since the start of the pandemic, analysis by Oxfam has found.
The analysis also shows a new billionaire was created every 26 hours in that time somewhere in the world, and the world’s ten richest men doubled their wealth from €610bn to €1.3 trillion.
On the other end of the scale, 160m people were forced into poverty, and inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.
In response to these disparities, Oxfam Ireland has called for extreme riches to be subject to a wealth tax to help fund recovery from the pandemic.
In a report published today named Inequality Kills, Oxfam relies on data from the Forbes Real Time Billionaires 2022 List and information provided by Wealth-X.
The nine billionaires listed for Ireland byare:
- of construction firm Shapoorji Pallonji Group, with a net worth of €12.78bn ($14.6bn);
- of Lone Star Funds — €6.65bn ($7.6bn);
- , Digicel — €4.02bn ($4.6bn);
- and of Stripe — €2.80bn ($3.2bn) each;
- , of hedge fund Egerton Capital — €2.27bn ($2.6bn);
- , heir to the Campbell Soup fortune — €2.27bn ($2.6bn);
- of the Kingspan group — €2.014bn ($2.3bn);
- Financier , with a net worth of €1.927bn (€2.2bn).
Oxfam’s estimates show that a 1.5% wealth tax on Irish millionaires owning above €4m could raise €4bn in tax revenue. A 1.5% wealth tax on Irish billionaires alone could raise a little over €0.7bn.
Oxfam Ireland CEO Jim Clarken called for progressive wealth taxes, debt relief, and cancellation of debts for the less well-off.
"Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of euro into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom," he said.
“[Ireland] could lead by example by introducing a wealth tax of 1.5% on the very wealthiest which would have a positive effect on Ireland’s society as it recovers from the pandemic,” he said.
This funding, he suggested, could be used for housing or health, or for supporting a just transition to a zero-carbon society.
Oxfam Ireland also warned the impact of the pandemic is far from over as vaccine inequity will limit how quickly some countries can recover.
The proportion of people with Covid-19 who die from the virus in developing countries is roughly double that in wealthy countries, the report stated.
Mr Clarken cautioned against leaving poorer countries behind as pressures lead to social conflict including rising rates of violence against women:
“Yet gender-based violence has accounted for only 0.0002% of global pandemic response funding,” he said.