The report entitled, “The inequality virus”, released by anti-poverty group Oxfam warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is aggravating inequality with the richest quickly getting richer while it will likely take years for the world’s poorest to recover.
Oxfam warned that the pandemic is the first time since records began that inequality is rising in virtually every country at the same time.
“The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months, but it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover,” the report warned.
It also highlighted the fact that the impact of the virus is also being felt unevenly, with ethnic minorities in certain countries dying at higher rates and women being overrepresented in sectors of the economy that are hardest hit by the pandemic.
The Oxfam report argued for fairer economies as the key to a rapid economic recovery from the pandemic. It cited the possible effect a temporary tax on excess profits made by 32 global corporations that have gained the most during the pandemic that could have raised $104 billion in 2020. Such an amount was enough to have provided unemployment benefits for all workers and financial support for all children and elderly in low and middle income countries.
“Extreme inequality is not inevitable, but a policy choice,” Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said. “The fight against inequality must be at the heart of economic rescue and recovery efforts” with investments in public services financed by a tax system where the richest individuals and corporations pay their fair share.
A nation like the Philippines with so many poor people needs a government determined to reduce inequality as it crafts various policies to facilitate the country’s recovery from the pandemic, especially if everyone is to be uplifted, not just those who have the power, influence and money. The first hurdle for our leaders would be the selective and unequal treatment of the nation’s so-called oligarchs because a government that cannot be fair towards all of those who have the means cannot be expected to prioritize equality and fairness to those who have less in life.
This pandemic presents an unprecedented opportunity to create a society that is more equal as nations craft their roadmaps for recovery that should benefit everyone, regardless of status in life. The only question is if our leaders see that opportunity, or they allow themselves to be led to take the opposite path that benefits only those like them.*