JCharity group Oxfam International says the impacts of Covid-19, rising global inequality and soaring food prices caused by war in Ukraine are set to send more than a quarter of a billion more people into poverty this year.
The combined hit could result in a total of 860 million people living below the $1.90-a-day line by the end of 2022, 263 million more than the pre-pandemic projection, the group said in a report on Tuesday. This equates to the entire population of the UK, France, Germany and Spain combined.
Oxfam released the report ahead of spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank next week in Washington, where global economic challenges and the shock of the Russian invasion are expected to be among the main focuses.
The poorest people will be hardest hit, with food costs accounting for 40% of consumer spending in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 17% in advanced economies, Oxfam said, citing an IMF report.
Oxfam has warned that the return of inflation is a recipe for financial turmoil in low-income countries that need dollars to import energy, medicine and food, and whose debt is largely denominated in US currency.
To remedy the situation, Oxfam came up with a number of ideas. They include an annual wealth tax on millionaires starting at 2% and 5% on billionaires, which the organization says would generate $2.52 trillion a year. That would be enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and provide universal health care and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
“We reject any idea that governments do not have the money or the means to lift everyone out of poverty and hunger and ensure their health and well-being,” said the executive director of ‘Oxfam International, Gabriela Bucher. “We only see the lack of economic imagination and political will to do so.”
In the United States, President Joe Biden last month proposed a minimum tax of 20% on households worth more than $100 million. While it could generate hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue and enjoys strong support among many Democrats, it is unlikely to pass Congress anytime soon, where the party has wafer-thin margins. because many moderate legislators are nervous about such a large tax. revision.
Oxfam is also urging the Group of 20 largest countries to cancel all debt payments this year and next year for all low and lower middle income countries that need them. The group estimated that the debt service of all the world’s poorest countries will amount to $43 billion this year, equivalent to nearly half of their food import bills and government spending. combined health.
More Must-Try Stories from TIME