The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their COVID-19 losses within just nine months, but it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, reveals a new Oxfam report today. ‘The Inequality Virus’ is being published on the opening day of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Davos Agenda’.
The report shows that COVID-19 has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began over a century ago. Rising inequality means it could take at least 14 times longer for the number of people living in poverty to return to pre-pandemic levels than it took for the fortunes of the top 1,000, mostly White male, billionaires to bounce back.
A new global survey of 295 economists from 79 countries, commissioned by Oxfam, reveals that 87 percent of respondents, including Jeffrey Sachs, Jayati Ghosh and Gabriel Zucman, expect an ‘increase’ or a ‘major increase’ in income inequality in their country as a result of the pandemic.
Oxfam’s report shows how the rigged economic system is enabling a super-rich elite to amass wealth in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression while billions of people are struggling to make ends meet. It reveals how the pandemic is deepening long-standing economic, racial and gender divides.
• The recession is over for the richest. The world’s ten richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began —more than enough to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone and to ensure no one is pushed into poverty by the pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic has ushered in the worst job crisis in over 90 years with hundreds of millions of people now underemployed or out of work.
• Women are hardest hit, yet again. Globally, women are overrepresented in the low-paid precarious professions that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. If women were represented at the same rate as men in these sectors, 112 million women would no longer be at high risk of losing their incomes or jobs. Women also make up roughly 70 percent of the global health and social care workforce − essential but often poorly paid jobs that put them at greater risk from COVID-19.
• Inequality is costing lives. Afro-descendants in Brazil are 40 percent more likely to die of COVID-19 than White people, while nearly 22,000 Black and Hispanic people in the United States would still be alive if they experienced the same COVID-19 mortality rates as their White counterparts. Infection and mortality rates are higher in poorer areas of countries such as France, India, and Spain while England’s poorest regions experience mortality rates double that of the richest areas.
• Fairer economies are the key to a rapid economic recovery from COVID-19. A temporary tax on excess profits made by the 32 global corporations that have gained the most during the pandemic could have raised $104 billion in 2020. This is enough to provide unemployment benefits for all workers and financial support for all children and elderly people in low- and middle-income countries.
Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said:
“We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began. The deep divide between the rich and poor is proving as deadly as the virus.”
“Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in luxury, while those on the frontline of the pandemic —shop assistants, healthcare workers, and market vendors— are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.
“Women and marginalized racial and ethnic groups are bearing the brunt of this crisis. They are more likely to be pushed into poverty, more likely to go hungry, and more likely to be excluded from healthcare.”
Billionaires fortunes rebounded as stock markets recovered despite continued recession in the real economy. Their total wealth hit $11.95 trillion in December 2020, equivalent to G20 governments’ total COVID-19 recovery spending. The road to recovery will be much longer for people who were already struggling pre-COVID-19. When the virus struck over half of workers in poor countries were living in poverty, and three-quarters of workers globally had no access to social protections like sick pay or unemployment benefits.
“Extreme inequality is not inevitable, but a policy choice. Governments around the world must seize this opportunity to build more equal, more inclusive economies that end poverty and protect the planet,” added Bucher.
“The fight against inequality must be at the heart of economic rescue and recovery efforts. Governments must ensure everyone has access to a COVID-19 vaccine and financial support if they lose their job. They must invest in public services and low carbon sectors to create millions of new jobs and ensure everyone has access to a decent education, health, and social care, and they must ensure the richest individuals and corporations contribute their fair share of tax to pay for it.
“These measures must not be band-aid solutions for desperate times but a ‘new normal’ in economies that work for the benefit of all people, not just the privileged few.”
Follow the link to read the report: https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/621149/bp-the-inequality-virus-250121-en.pdf
Zamtel targets near countrywide blanket coverage as it erects 790 new towers
Zamtel says it is confident of attaining a near countrywide blanket coverage as it nears the completion of its towers roll out project.
Zamtel Chief Executive Officer Sydney Mupeta said once the project is completed, over 90 percent of the country will have adequate communication coverage.
Mr Mupeta said Zamtel is confident it will complete the installation of the remaining towers which are part of the 1009 towers project by end of the year.
He said access to communication services in the rural areas is helping transform livelihoods.
Mr Mupeta said farmers are now able to negotiate for better prices for their produce as they can now approach different buyers using their mobile phone.
The Zamtel CEO was speaking in Msanzala Constituency in Petauke when he launched two communication towers at Misolo and Ukwimi.
“I wish to inform you that the sites we are launching are is part of the 1009 communication towers which Zamtel has been erecting in different parts of the Country mainly in rural areas as part of Phase II of the GRZ Communication Towers project. So far, this project has delivered over 790 new sites with Msanzala receiving 8 new towers, one of which we are commissioning today at Misolo,” Mr Mupeta said.
“As the GRZ Communication Towers project nears completion, we are confident that we will deliver the remaining few sites this year which is within the project schedule. Allow me to make a bold proclamation here by stating that once this project is fully completed, Zambia will have a near blanket coverage with regard to communication services,” he said
He added, “This means that almost all the corners of this beautiful Country will have access to communication services.”
And Msanzala PF Member of Parliament Peter Daka says the PF government deserves re-election because they have delivered development everywhere.
Mr Daka said there is no part of Zambia that has not been touched by any form of development.
He said the PF under President Lungu has constructed roads, built clinics and hospitals and installed communications towers across the country.
“President Lungu promised when he came here that he will bring development without leaving anyone behind and this is what is happening today. We are here launching this tower as testimony of that promise by His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa,” Mr Daka said.
At the two ceremonies, both Chief Nyampande’s Representative Joyce Mwanza and Chief Sandwe commended Zamtel for bringing its network closer to the people.
The University of Zambia (UNZA) commences construction of 3km perimeter wall fence
THE University of Zambia (UNZA) has commenced the construction of the three (3) kilometres perimeter wall fence aimed at securing the institution from vandals and theft activities.
Speaking during the official ground-breaking and laying of the foundation stone ceremony, University of Zambia Vice Chancellor, Prof. Luke Evuta Mumba says that, once completed, the wall fence will enhance the outlook of the university but also improve the security of its infrastructure as well as the community living and working within the institution.
The Vice Chancellor has thanked the government of the Republic of Zambia, in particular the Ministry of Local Government for funding the construction process. The Vice Chancellor adds that, the funds for the construction of the wall fence have been derived from a compensation arising from the land affected by the construction of the new road connecting Nangwenya and Kamloops roads.
The University of Zambia has in the recent past embarked on a massive infrastructure development program, demonstrated by a number of projects at both the Great East Road and Ridgeway campuses. Of note, is the East Park Mall developed by Graduare Property Development Limited, the construction of student hostels which are yet to be completed, the construction of the road connecting Nangwenya and Kamloops roads and most recently the completion of the Teaching and Learning Complex commissioned by the Republican President, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
While the University of Zambia notes with pride, that these developments have changed the outlook of the university, it also notes that the developments have exposed the institution to a number of entrances into its premises. This exposure has in turn brought about challenges in effectively providing security to the university and its important installations.
To secure the university from vandals and theft activities, Management of the institution has embarked on a project of constructing a perimeter wall fence around the university which is expected to be completed within three (3) months.
This is according to a press statement issued by Dr. Brenda Bukowa, A/Head – Comm. & Marketing at the University of Zambia (UNZA).
Minister was wrong to declare CEC’s transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier, Court rules
THE Lusaka High Court has quashed Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa’s decision to declare the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC’s) transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier.
In her judgement delivered on Friday judge Elita Mwikisa noted that there was a failure on the part of the Minister to act with procedural fairness towards CEC.
She said Minister’s decision to declare CEC’s transmission and distribution lines as common carrier through the passing of S.I No.57 of 2020, had taken away CEC’s rights to negotiate terms and conditions of use of its infrastructure in view of the fact that any enterprise can use CEC’s infractructure at the wheeling charge that ERB has set, which CEC had argued was not cost effective.
“In fact, KCM has abrogated its contractual obligations under the Power Supply Agreement (PSA) to pay the debt owed to CEC amounting to USD 144 million. I agree with CEC that S.I No. 57 of 2020 is too wide in its application in that it affects all the applicant’s transmission and distribution lines instead of only affecting lines supplying power to KCM,” judge Mwikisa said.
She found that the minister’s decision to declare CEC’s distribution and transmission lines as a common carrier was not for purposes of the Act but was intended to assist KCM avoid the effect of section 43 of the Electricity Act.
Judge Mwikisa agreed with CEC that the Minister’s decision was meant to ensure continous supply of electricity power to KCM, despite being indebted to CEC.
“The Minister’s decision is ultra vires the provisions of section 15 (2) of the Act and therefore illegal. KCM failed to pay the debt of USD144 million and CEC has the right under section 43 (1) to discontinue the supply of power,” she further said.
She further said CEC was not fairly treated by the Minister who arbitrarily used his powers to declare its transmission and distribution lines as common carrier without giving CEC a chance to negotiate terms and conditions for the use of its infrastructure.
“All in all, I find that the applicant has succeeded on all grounds under order 53 rule 3 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. I accordingly quash the decision of the Minister of May 29, 2020, to declare the applicant’s transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier. Costs follow the event,” ruled judge Mwikisa.
In this matter, CEC which cited the Attorney General and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) as respondents, was seeking a declaration that Nkhuwa’s decision dated May 29, 2020, to declare its transmission and distribution lines as common carrier was unlawful.
CEC wanted a declaration that the decision of the Minister of Energy to direct it to provide a wheeling path for Zesco Limited to supply power to KCM on terms directed by the Energy Regulation Board was illegal and therefore null and void.
It also wanted a declaration that the decision by the Director General of the Energy Regulation Board of May 31, 2020 to direct it to charge a wheeling tariff of US$5.84/kw/per month was illegal and therefore null and void.
CEC further wanted among others, an order to quash the said decisions and a further order to stop Nkhuwa from enforcing SI no.57 of 2020 as it is illegal.