For Oxfam, the government’s response to the crisis is increasing French fractures

As every year, the NGO Oxfam publishes a report on global and French inequalities on the first day of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), which brings together international political and economic leaders – from Monday January 16 to Friday January 20 for this 2023 edition. Previous editions had earned the NGO much criticism from economists who highlighted the many methodological biases.

This time, it appears that both French and foreign billionaires have gotten richer since 2020, writes Oxfam, based in particular on the ranking of Forbes to calculate that “the top ten French billionaires have increased their fortunes by 189 billion euros, the equivalent of two years of gas, electricity and fuel bills for French households”. But such rankings, relativizes economist Christopher Dembik, at Saxo Bank, “are based on shares held on the stock exchange. But this is a virtual wealth that varies with market fluctuations.

Occasional aid for the poor

Beyond the only billionaires however, Oxfam evokes a concentration of wealth in France, yet marked by a powerful system of redistribution. A model deemed still effective, but “increasingly under pressure” in all public services. Oxfam blames the tax cuts of Macron’s first five-year term, which filled the coffers less and would have benefited the wealthiest more.

The return of high inflation has worsened the situation, according to the report. Its impact is twice as high among precarious households as among the richest, estimates Oxfam, explaining to refer to the calculations of the ECB. She also cites INSEE to state that “the government’s response to the crises has exacerbated inequalities by offering small one-off aid for the most precarious against large tax cuts for the wealthy. »

Impoverishment of the French

Same observation for the tariff shield on energy prices or fuel aid, which the government targeted too late on the most modest, judges the NGO. This has led to an impoverishment of the French, according to Oxfam, a paradox when “the French government has curbed inflation better than its European neighbours”. And to note that, “according to the OECD, France is the country which suffered the largest drop in real incomes in the 2nd quarter of 2022”, while Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on human rights, underlines an increase “unpublished” of poverty in France.

The “whatever the cost” has benefited, proportionally, more to the richest, insists Oxfam, which recalls at the same time the savings measures affecting households: tightening of unemployment insurance compensation, postponement announced retirement age from 62 to 64 years.

The report calls for raising the minimum wage, protecting low wages from inflation and introducing targeted support for the most vulnerable. It calls in particular for additional means for the renovation of thermal colanders, with a targeting towards the most modest, to invest in public transport and soft mobility to limit dependence on the car. Oxfam offers progressive water and energy tariffs to guarantee everyone basic access.

Review household and business taxation

To finance all these measures, the NGO suggests restoring a solidarity tax on wealth as well as a more progressive taxation on income from financial investments, a reform of inheritance tax and the return of an “exit tax”, to fight against the exile of wealthy individuals.

Corporate taxation must also be increased, Oxfam press, citing pell-mell taxation of sectors that have benefited from the crisis, an effective minimum tax for multinationals, without exemption and higher than what is currently planned (15% of profits) , and finally unitary taxation of multinationals, where they have a real economic activity (employees, sales, assets).

According to the NGO, all of these measures could bring in between 60 and 80 billion euros in additional revenue per year.


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