10 corporates have revenue greater than 180 poorest countries: Report

Around 1% people owned more wealth than rest of world’s population while ten corporates together have revenue greater than that of 180 poorest countries, a report on inequality has said.

Emphasising that the global inequality crisis “continues unabated”, the report prepared by Oxfam pointed finger at the “very design” of the economies for taking people to this “extreme, unsustainable and unjust point”.

The report ‘An Economy for the 99%’, which puts the blame on large corporations, super-rich and crony capitalism for the inequality crisis, said the global wealth has reached a “staggering” USD 225 trillion.

“Since 2015, more than half of this wealth has been in the hands of the richest 1% of people. At the very top, this year’s data finds that collectively the richest eight individuals have a net wealth of USD 426 billion, which is the same as the net wealth of the bottom half of humanity,” the report said.

It noted that world’s ten biggest corporations, including Walmart, Shell and Apple, have a “combined revenue greater than that of the 180 ‘poorest’ countries combined”. The list of countries include Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Colombia, Greece, South Africa, Iraq and Vietnam.

“Revenue, or turnover, gives an idea of the scale of operations behind these giants, but corporations have been eye-wateringly successful at turning this into profit. The 10 most profitable corporations in the US made a collective USD 226 billion in profit in 2015, or USD 30 for every person on the planet,” it said.

The report was critical of big corporations, saying they were working for the interests of the top and always looking at ways like “dodging tax” and other ways to increase profit for their shareholders.

Highlighting how “growing wage gap” is increasing income inequality, the report said many chief executives, who are often paid in shares, have seen their incomes sky-rocket, wages for ordinary workers and producers have “barely increased”, and in some cases have “got worse”.

To buttress its point, it said the CEO of India’s top information firm “earns 416 times the salary of a typical employee”.

“In developed economies, greater wage inequality has been the single most important driver of income inequality, while among countries where inequality has fallen, the trend was frequently driven by strong growth in real wages at the bottom,” it said.

The report also noted that women remain worse off as they are likely to find themselves in the bottom half of the income distribution.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 16, 2016)

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