Heads of state, financial ministers, celebrities and representatives from many of the worlds most powerful corporations are meeting in Davos, Switzerland for the 2014 World Economic Forum. This year’s theme of the forum is “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.” The Forum has focused on income inequality, the impacts of low economic growth and climate change. In advance of this year’s forum Oxfam International released a report that noted that the world’s 85 richest individuals have as much wealth as 3.5 billion people or half the world’s population.
“When one out of five people in the world lives in extreme poverty, it’s critical to tackle the issues being discussed at the forum,” noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, a religious anti-poverty organization. “It’s important for leaders in Davos to reflect on the policies that are responsible for perpetuating extreme poverty.”
Since the global financial crisis, more than 70 million people, mostly women and children, have moved into extreme poverty. The developing world loses nearly 1 trillion dollars annually due to tax avoidance and capital flight.
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“Many of those gathering in Davos represent a who’s who of global tax avoiders,” shared LeCompte. “At recent G8 and G20 meetings a consensus emerged that corporate tax avoidance leads to inequality. Unfortunately, many corporations at the forum continue to use loopholes to avoid paying billions in taxes around the world. Companies from the tech sector, who play a big role in Davos, are among the worst offenders.”
The World Economic Forum released analysis noting that economic growth was slow after the international financial crisis. Solutions for the crisis that was spurred by high debt burdens and speculation, are being discussed at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the G20 and the International Monetary Fund.
“It’s important that global leaders are addressing the reality of how debt crises caused a global financial crisis,” said LeCompte who serves on UN expert groups seeking solutions to financial crises. “The international financial system is like the wild west. We need an international bankruptcy process for countries and basic global rules on responsible lending and borrowing.”