NZ needs to get tough in tax avoidance battle - Oxfam

  • 23/01/2018

International charity Oxfam is calling on New Zealand to demonstrate global leadership and work with political leaders to call for international tax reforms.

New Oxfam research shows globally 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest 1 percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half got nothing.

In New Zealand, the richest 1 percent of Kiwis bagged a staggering 28 percent of all wealth created last year, while the poorest 30 percent of the population got just 1 percent.

The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system, Oxfam New Zealand executive director Rachael Le Mesurier says.

"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 multi-national corporations and billionaire investors," she said.

The Oxfam research forms part of a global report released to coincide with this week's World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The charity wants New Zealand to step up and work with global leaders to call for international tax reforms, including strengthening tax transparency for multi-nationals which is an essential step in fighting global tax avoidance.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents in 120,000-person Oxfam survey across 10 countries said the gap between the rich and the poor needed to be urgently addressed.

Facts on global wealth:

  • 2017 saw an increase in the number of billionaires, at a rate of one every two days
  • 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 percent
  • It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her entire lifetime
  • It would cost US$2.2 billion ($3b) a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage