A group of millionaires have joined protests against the World Economic Forum’s gathering of business and political elites in Davos, Switzerland, demanding that governments ‘tax us now’ to tackle the widening gap between rich and poor .
The unlikely protesters, who describe themselves as ‘patriotic millionaires’, called on world leaders attending the annual conference on Sunday to immediately introduce new taxes on the wealthy to tackle the ‘cost of living scandal unfolding in several countries of the world”. .
Charity Oxfam recently said rising inequality could push up to 263 million more people into extreme poverty by 2022, reversing decades of progress.
Phil White, former business consultant and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, said: “As the rest of the world crumbles under the weight of an economic crisis, billionaires and world leaders gather at this private resort to discuss turning points in history.
“It is outrageous that our political leaders are listening to those who have the most, know the least about the economic impact of this crisis, and many of whom pay sadly little tax. The only credible outcome of this conference is to tax the richest and tax us now. Tax delegates attending Davos 2022.”
The protest comes as it was revealed there are now a record 177 billionaires in the UK, with a combined fortune of £653billion.
At the same time, more than 250,000 UK households are set to fall into poverty next year due to soaring food and energy bills. This would bring the total number of people living in extreme poverty to around 1.2 million unless the government acts to help the poorest families hit by the huge rise in energy prices, according to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR).
Marlene Engelhorn, another “patriotic millionaire” at the protest, said the only solution to “gross inequality” was to demand that governments “tax me, tax the rich”.
Engelhorn, heir to the founders of chemical company BASF, who co-founded the #taxmenow initiative, said: “As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth all my life, I know how skewed our economy is and I can’t keep sitting around and waiting for someone, somewhere to do something I think we’re left with no choice but to act.
“Our governments continue to do nothing to address glaring inequality and instead meet behind closed doors in this spectacle of private wealth. We have reached the end of the line when another quarter of a billion people will be pushed into extreme poverty this year. It’s time to rebalance the world. It’s time to tax the rich.
The theme of this year’s WEF meeting in Davos – the first in-person gathering in more than two years, due to the pandemic – is “working together, rebuilding trust”.
Djaffar Shalchi, a Danish multi-millionaire engineer and property developer, said: “You don’t gain people’s trust by hosting events like Davos, where the world’s rich and powerful meet behind layers of security. The most important thing Davos attendees could do to gain people’s trust is to recognize that the wealth and privilege they represent and protect are incompatible with a world where everyone can live a full and prosperous life.