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Soaring commodity prices push up food billionaires wealth - report

Oxfam called on world leaders to immediately introduce wealth taxes on the super-rich.

In Summary

•An annual wealth tax starting at 2 per cent for millionaires, and rising to 5 per cent for billionaires, could generate $2.5 trillion (Sh296.35 trillion) a year.

•Oxfam called on world leaders to immediately introduce wealth taxes on the super-rich.

Basic food items on display at at a super market
Basic food items on display at at a super market
Image: FILE

The fortunes of food and energy billionaires has grown by $453 billion (Sh53.70 trillion) over the past two years, a new report shows.

The Oxfam report revealed food billionaires alone have increased their collective wealth by $382 billion (45.28 trillion) since 2020.

According to the British charitable organisation, the increase is attributed to soaring energy and commodity prices during the pandemic and Russian/Ukraine war.

"Less than two weeks’ worth of their wealth gains, would be more than enough to fund the entirety of the $6.2 billion (Sh734.94 billion) UN appeal for East Africa, which is currently woefully funded at a mere 16 per cent," the report reads in part.

Oxfam called on world leaders to immediately introduce wealth taxes on the super-rich to help tackle “the biggest increase in extreme poverty in over 20 years”.

The development charity said governments should follow Argentina’s example and introduce a “one-off solidarity tax on billionaires’ pandemic windfalls”.

The country tax raised £1.5 billion (Sh213.04billion) last year.

Oxfam also called for the introduction of permanent wealth taxes to “rein in extreme wealth and monopoly power”.

It said an annual wealth tax starting at 2 per cent for millionaires, and rising to 5 per cent for billionaires, could generate $2.5 trillion (Sh296.35 trillion) a year.

That would be enough, said Oxfam, “to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries”.

Kenya gained 39 dollar millionaires in the past year despite the tough economic times occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2022.

These are individuals whose net worth, inclusive of their primary residence surpassed $1 million (Sh113.8 million) as at October 2021.

The increase pushed the number of Kenya's dollar millionaires from 3,323 in 2020 to 3,362 in 2021 representing a one per cent increase.

According to the survey, majority of the millionaires in Kenya prefer to invest in property oversees with growing interest in building wealth under healthcare, retirement, development land, retail and agriculture sectors.

Food inflation in East African countries where tens of millions of people are caught in an alarming hunger crisis has increased sharply.