The number of super-rich in Ireland, with individual wealth more than €46.6m, has more than doubled in the past decade according to Oxfam, as they called for new taxes on Irish wealth that could raise more than €8bn each year.
Publishing its annual report on the eve of the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said the number of Irish people with an individual wealth of more than $50m has increased from 655 in 2012 to 1,435 people last year.
Despite a drop from nine to eight in the number of Irish billionaires following the death last year of Indian-Irish construction magnate Pallonji Mistry, Oxfam said the number of Irish people who earn more than $5m (€4.6m) has also doubled in the past 10 years.
According to Forbes, which Oxfam uses to track global individual wealth, Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison top Ireland’s rich list with individual wealth of $8.1bn (€7.5bn) each. Oxfam said their combined wealth of €15bn is more than the €10.3bn in wealth held by the entire bottom 50% of the population.
The Oxfam report said that, globally, the richest 1% have acquired nearly twice as much wealth as the rest of humanity over the past two years.
“This rising wealth at the top and rising poverty for the rest are two sides of the same coin, proof that our economic system is functioning exactly how the rich and powerful designed it to,” Oxfam Ireland’s CEO, Jim Clarken said.
“A wealth tax on elite Irish wealth at graduated rates of 2%, 3%, and 5% above a high threshold of €4.7m would raise €8.2bn annually, with the potential to transform Irish public services in health, housing, and education while also delivering on our international and climate commitments,” he said.
Third on Ireland’s rich list is US financier John Grayken who founded private equity firm Lone Star Funds and who took Irish citizenship in 1999.
Telecoms magnate Denis O’Brien is fourth, followed by British hedge-fund manager John Armitage who took Irish citizenship in 1999. Campbell’s Soup heir John Dorrance III is sixth followed by financier Dermot Desmond who Forbes says has an individual wealth of €1.9bn. Eugene Murtagh who founded building materials giant Kingspan is eighth on the list.
According to Forbes, John Collison aged 32 remains one of the world’s youngest billionaires positioned 13th on the list. His 34-year-old brother Patrick is 20th on the list of youngest billionaires.
“Entire countries are facing bankruptcy, with the poorest countries now spending four times more repaying debts to rich creditors than on healthcare,” Mr Clarken said.
“Three-quarters of the world’s governments are planning austerity-driven public sector spending cuts — including on healthcare and education — of $7.8 trillion over the next five years.”
They said inequality has led to the World Bank announcing that the world has almost certainly lost its goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
The Oxfam report was published as economic leaders meet in Davos. The WEF’s annual Global Risks Report showed the threat of recession, the cost-of-living crisis, and mounting debt distress will dominate the outlook for the next two years.
The World Bank this week slashed its growth forecasts for most countries and regions and warned that new adverse occurrences could tip the global economy into a recession.
The CEOs of Moderna and Pfizer will also be speaking at the summit, with one panel devoted to how fast vaccines can be created the next time a pandemic hits.
The future of work will also feature. Whether to return to the office, as well as the rise of “quiet quitting” and the four-day week.