• Oxfam says richest one percent to own more than rest by 2016

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    PARIS: Wealth accumulated by the richest 1 percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent in 2016, the Oxfam charity said on Monday, ahead of the annual meeting of the world’s most powerful at Davos, Switzerland.

    “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast,” Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said.

    The richest 1 percent’s share of global wealth increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014, the British charity said in a report, adding that it will be more than 50 percent in 2016.

    The average wealth per adult in this group is $2.7 million (2.3 million euros), Oxfam said.

    Of the remaining 52 percent, almost all—46 percent—is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population, leaving the other 80 percent to share just 5.5 percent with an average wealth of $3,851 (3,330 euros) per adult, the report said.

    Byanyima, co-chairman of the Davos World Economic Forum taking place Wednesday through Friday, urged leaders to take on “vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.”

    Oxfam called upon states to tackle tax evasion, improve public services, tax capital rather than labor and introduce living minimum wages, among other measures, in a bid to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.

    The 45th World Economic Forum will draw a record number of participants this year with more than 300 heads of state and government attending.

    Rising inequality will be competing with other global crises including terrorist threats in Europe, the worst post-Cold War stand-off between Russia and the West and renewed fears of financial turmoil.

    France’s Francois Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel and China’s Li Keqiang will be among world leaders seeking to chart a path away from fundamentalism toward solidarity.

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and US Secretary of State John Kerry are also expected.

    Beyond geopolitical crises, hot-button issues such as the Ebola epidemic, the challenges posed by plunging oil prices and the future of technology will also be addressed at the posh Swiss ski resort.

    AFP

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