Irish billionaires’ wealth grows by €15 billion during the pandemic

Ireland’s nine billionaires have increased their wealth by more than €15 billion since the pandemic began, new research from Oxfam shows.

Irish billionaires — including Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison and media mogul Denis O’Brien — are now collectively worth $51 billion.

Oxfam research shows that companies in the energy, food and pharmaceuticals sectors are posting record profits, while deprivation is increasing among the less affluent.

Five Irish energy companies – ESB, Energia, Bord Gais, SSE Airtricity and Energia Power – had combined annual profits of €280m, with annual energy inflation up to 43.6% and food prices rising 3.5%.

Global food and energy billionaires have seen wealth gains of $453 billion over the past two years, Oxfam estimates, with 62 new “food billionaires” created.

In Ireland, 691,587 people are affected by deprivation, including 204,710 children.

Globally, 573 people became new billionaires during the pandemic, Oxfam said – a rate of one every 30 hours.

This year, the charity expects another 263 million people to fall into extreme poverty, at a rate of one million people every 33 hours.

The research comes as the World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos, Switzerland, the first face-to-face meeting since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“Billionaires arriving in Davos have seen an incredible increase in their wealth,” said Jim Clarken, Chief Executive Officer of Oxfam Ireland.

“Put simply, the pandemic, followed by the spike in food and energy prices, has been a gold mine for them.

“It is unscrupulous that some are profiting from the pandemic and its aftermath while others are trying to choose between paying their energy bills or going hungry.”

Globally, billionaire fortunes rose more in the first 24 months of the pandemic than they have accumulated in 23 years, Oxfam said.

The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires is now 13.9 percent of global gross domestic product, up from 4.4 percent in 2000.

Oxfam estimates that by 2022 more than a quarter of a million people will be pushed into extreme poverty.

Oxfam wants governments around the world to impose windfall taxes on wealthy individuals and the most profitable large corporations, and introduce a permanent wealth tax of 2 to 5 percent for the super-rich.

Oxfam estimates a 1.5 per cent wealth tax on Irish millionaires worth more than £4million Irish billionaires’ wealth grows by €15 billion during the pandemic

Fry Electronics Team

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