Oxfam in Nigeria on Monday announced that three of the richest men in the country are wealthier than 83 million Nigerians.
Oxfam disclosed this in a report titled “Davos 2023 Inequality Report” unveiled at a media briefing in Abuja on Monday ahead of the global conference of world leaders scheduled for next week in Davos, Switzerland.
According to the report, the richest 0.003 per cent Nigerians (6,355 individuals worth $5 million and above) have 1.4 times more wealth than 107 million other Nigerians.
“A wealth tax of two per cent on the millionaires, three per cent on those with wealth above $50m and five per cent on the Nigerian billionaires would raise $3.2bn annually. This would be enough to double health spending.
“Oxfam is calling for more tax on billionaires and not workers and is a message sent to world leaders ahead of the World Economic Forum, WEF, organised Davos 2023 where ‘Survival of the Richest’ is published on the opening day of the conference, while world elites are gathering in the Swiss ski resort as extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years,” the report said.
The report also noted that a tax of up to five per cent on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty.
The country director of Oxfam in Nigeria, Vincent Ahonsi, who presented the report said the wealth of Nigerian billionaires has grown by a third since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The richest men in Nigeria have more wealth than 83 million Nigerians. The richest one per cent grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth worth $42 trillion created since 2020, almost twice as much money as the bottom 99 per cent of the world’s population, reveals a new Oxfam report today. During the past decade, the rich one per cent had captured around half of all new wealth,” Mr Ahonsi was quoted by Vanguard as saying.
He said for over five years, Nigeria spent an average of 9 per cent of its revenue on debt serving, and in 2020, before COVID, this was expected to be 29 per cent or 56 billion.
This amount was almost four times the education and social protection budgets, six times the health budget and 14 times the agricultural budget, he said.
Mr Ahonsi noted that despite Nigeria having one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world at just 3.6 per cent in 2019, Nigeria spent 80.6 per cent of its revenue on debt servicing in 2022.
According to him, while millions of Nigerians are unsure where their next meals will come from, wealthy Nigerians are getting richer and not paying their fair share of taxes but taking advantage of the complexities and loopholes in the tax legislation as well as the lack of transparency and accountability in tax implementation, thereby depriving the country of the revenue needed for social protection and inequality reduction.
“With over 20 million children out of school, it is inappropriate to continue to give five wealthy individuals and corporations tax breaks, incentives, and waivers.
“With about six out of 10 Nigerians lacking access to quality primary healthcare services, a situation that is worsening disease outbreaks and out-of-pocket expenditure, it is unfair for the wealth of Nigeria billionaires to grow by a third since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic without a corresponding increase in health budgets,” he said.
To bridge the inequality gap, he said, taxing the super-rich and big corporations remains key.
“It is time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow ‘trickling down’ to everyone else. 40 years of tax cuts for the super-rich have shown that a rising tide doesn’t lift all ships-just super yachts.
“To have a more secure and prosperous society, Nigeria needs to purposely work to reduce inequality, generate more tax revenues from the rich, spend more on health, education, agriculture and social protection, and provide fair, inclusive, and gender-sensitive opportunities for its citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Oxfam on Monday said that the world’s top one per cent grabbed nearly two-thirds of the $42 trillion in new wealth created since 2020.
In its new report released to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the organization said the share was almost twice as much money as the amount obtained by the bottom 99 percent of the world’s population.
According to the report, titled “Survival of the Richest”, billionaire fortunes are increasing by $2.7 billion a day, while at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages.
The report noted that half of the world’s billionaires live in countries with no inheritance tax for direct descendants, putting them on track to pass on $5 trillion to their heirs, a figure that is more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Africa.
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