Richest 1 pct sucking up quarter of NZ's wealth - Oxfam

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This is the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history and a whopping 82% of all of the wealth generated between the second quarter of 2016 and the corresponding period a year ago went to the top 1%, according to the latest survey by Oxfam.

Oxfam's latest report was released to coincide with the annual meeting of the business and political elite at the World Economic Forum, which begins on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland.

These figures were released by Oxfam today, ahead of their report Reward Work, Not Wealth to be revealed this afternoon.

Last year, one billionaire was created every two days. At the start of 2017, Oxfam said eight billionaires from around the globe had as much money as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world's population. Billionaire wealth has risen by an average of 13 per cent a year since 2010 - six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 per cent.

Oxfam said Australia's rich were getting richer while wage growth for ordinary workers had slowed to record lows and was barely keeping pace with the cost of living.

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The recommendations for corporations are far more eyebrow-raising, be it "Limit returns to shareholders and promote a pay ratio for companies' top executives that is no more than 20 times their median employees' pay" or refraining from rewarding shareholders through dividends or buybacks or even paying bonuses to executives until "all their employees have received a living wage".

"It also offers an opportunity for New Zealand to provide an example to many developing countries in using a fairer tax system to reduce the extreme gap between the very rich and the very poor".

"The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors".

Oxfam International is calling for governments to ensure economies work for everyone and not just for the fortunate few.

- Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers.

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- Ensure the extremely wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance, and increase spending on public services such as healthcare and education. Experts are clear, high levels of inequality are bad for economic growth - for everyone except the small number of super-rich, who on a global scale are often able to translate their disproportionate control of resources into disproportionate influence over political and economic decision making.

The World Inequality Report revealed that the bottom 50 percent of United States income earners have seen zero wealth growth over the past 37 years, the bottom 90 percent have seen very limited growth, while the earnings of the top 1 percent has tripled to $1.3 million per annum. Of the 70,000 people surveyed in 10 countries, almost two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.

"It's hard to find a political or business leader who doesn't say they are anxious about inequality. They want action", Ms Byanyima said.

"People in India are ready for change".

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