By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A new report shows a historic increase in the number of billionaires globally last year, and even amidst an economic crisis Brazil has gained twelve more in the period, jumping from 31 to 43. Yet while Brazilian billionaires’ assets are up thirteen percent compared to 2016, the poorest in Brazil saw a decrease in income.

Inequality grew in Brazil last year, as the country has gained twelve new billionaires, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Inequality grew in Brazil last year, as the country has gained twelve new billionaires, photo by Tuca Vieira/Oxfam Brasil.

The data is part of the report ‘Reward work, not wealth’, released today (January 22nd) by the British non-governmental organization Oxfam. The entity participates in the World Economic Forum, which starts tomorrow (January 23rd) in Davos, Switzerland.

The NGO also reports that all the wealth generated in the world in 2017, 82 percent were concentrated in the hands of the richest one percent, while the poorest half – the equivalent of 3.7 billion people – were left with nothing.

The document highlights that there has been a historic increase in the number of billionaires last year: one more every two days. According to Oxfam, this increase would be enough to end seven times the extreme poverty on the planet. There are currently 2,043 billionaires in the world.

Brazil has gained twelve billionaires more in the period, from 31 to 43. “That means that there are more people concentrating wealth. We have not yet found a way to address this inequality,” Katia Maia, executive director of Oxfam Brazil, told a government news agency.

Brazilian billionaires’ assets reached R$549 billion last year, up thirteen percent compared to 2016. On the other hand, the poorest fifty percent had their share of national income reduced from 2.7 to 2 percent.

A Brazilian who earns a minimum wage would need to work nineteen years to earn the same amount that is received in one month for a person among the richest 0.1 percent.

Five Brazilian billionaires concentrate the equivalent of half the country’s poorest population. “Brazil had 75 billionaires, then fell, a lot because of inflation, and then, in the last three years, we saw a resumption in the increase in the number of billionaires,” said Rafael Georges, coordinator of campaigns of the entity.

She added, “This latest increase – of twelve billionaires – is the second largest ever in history. And the general patrimony is also increasing.”

The report calls for the rich to pay a “fair share” of taxes and to increase public spending on education and health. “Oxfam estimates that a global tax of 1.5 percent on the wealth of billionaires could cover the costs of keeping all children in school.”

Data released on December 15th by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) shows that more than fifty million Brazilians, nearly 25 percent of the population, live below the poverty line, and have family incomes of R$387.07 per month – approximately US$5.50 a day.

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