Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gathers

Oxfam is highlighting growing global inequality at this week's WEF gathering in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos. (AP)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gathers

DAVOS: A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday.
In the run-up to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam has sought to put inequality at the heart of this week’s deliberations of the rich and powerful.
“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director. “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.”
In its report “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” Oxfam says 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest 1 percent of the global population while the poorest half of the world’s population — 3.7 billion people — saw no increase in their wealth.
Billionaire wealth, it added, has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010, over six times more than the wages of average workers, and the number of billionaires rose at an astonishing rate of one every two days in the year to March 2017.
Oxfam listed a series of actions government should take, including limiting returns to shareholders and top executives, ensuring workers receive a minimum “living wage” and pushing through policies to eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. It also urged a clampdown on tax avoidance and other associated practices, which have been highlighted by the recent publication of the “Panama Papers” and the “Paradise Papers.”
Oxfam, which has sought for several years sought to highlight the problem of inequality on the eve of the World Economic Forum, said that without action, the populist and nationalist tides around the world will only become more acute.
“We’ve seen a shift in narrative in terms of what people say, but we haven’t seen action to match those words,” said Nick Bryer, Oxfam’s Davos campaign manager.
Governments, he said, need to “get back into the driving seat” and challenge the big corporations and the billionaires.
“There’s plenty they can do,” he said.
While conceding that the efforts of Oxfam and other civil society groups have yet to force substantive change among governments, Bryer said it’s important that they carry on delivering the message to the rich and powerful at events like the World Economic Forum, a gathering that’s perceived by many as solely serving the needs of the global elite.
“People are realizing that shocks are fueled by inequalities,” he said.
Oxfam’s findings are based on the annual Global Wealth Databook of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, and Forbes’ billionaire ranking series


Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a new joint cryptocurrency

Updated 20 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a new joint cryptocurrency

  • The cryptocurrency will be limited to banks during its first stages
  • The program will also help the two countries evaluate the monetary policies of a centralized currency

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a joint cryptocurrency during the first meeting of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination council Saturday in Abu Dhabi, UAE’s national press agency WAM said.

The cryptocurrency will be limited to banks during its first stages, until the governments have a better understanding of how Blockchain technology operates cross-borders.

The currency operates on the use of a “distributed database between the central banks and the participating banks from both sides,” aiming to protect customer interests, set technology standards and assess cybersecurity risks. The new program will also help evaluate the impacts of a central currency on monetary policies.

During the meeting, representatives of Saudi Arabia and the UAE also signed the Joint Supply Chained Security Cooperation program, which tests the two countries abilities to provide vital supplies during times of crisis and national emergencies, as well as share expertise and knowledge in the field.

All 16 members of the executive committee of the council followed up on the execution of the initiatives mentioned in the Strategy of Resolve.

Representatives also set five other initiatives to enhance the cooperation between the two countries, such as facilitating the traffic between ports, improving airports to make it easier for people with disabilities to travel, creating a financial awareness program for children aged 7-18, starting a joint platform to support local SMEs, and the integration of civil aviation markets,

The committee was headed by Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Gergawi, minister of cabinet of affairs and the future of UAE, and Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Twaijri, minister of economy and planning in Saudi. The committee will also monitor the implementation of the initiatives.