62 people can determine world economy

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

Some 2,500 individuals considered as the world’s richest, most powerful and popular will be at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland this Jan. 20-23. I remember Joey Concepcion telling me before I left for the WEF in 2008 that being in Davos would make a person “feel really poor” considering the presence of such heavyweights as Bill Gates and the rest of the world’s top billionaires. I told Joey that “standing beside you, I already feel poor enough.”

Levity aside, global organization Oxfam which has made it a mission to look for lasting solutions to hunger, poverty and social injustice is definitely bothered at the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor, with the world’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a very few. In its latest report, Oxfam says the collective wealth of 3.6 billion people (roughly 50 percent of the world’s population) considered as the poorest is equivalent to the riches of just the 62 richest people in the world. Five years ago, it took the world’s 388 richest to equal the combined wealth of the bottom half of the population — which means the poorest have even lesser wealth now while the 62 richest have become even wealthier, their assets collectively increasing by an estimated $1.76 trillion.

According to Forbes, the wealthiest man on earth (2015 list) is still Microsoft founder Bill Gates with an estimated net worth of $79.2 billion, followed by telecoms magnate Carlos Slim ($77.1 billion), Warren Buffet, Amancio Ortega (owner of Spanish luxury brand Zara), with the list also including the Koch brothers Charles and David, the WalMart owners, Michael Bloomberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (at No. 16 with $33.4 billion) and a host of other individuals whose names are followed by billions of dollars in the double digits.

“Extreme inequality is the result of a skewed economic and political system that favors the few at the expense of everyone else. And although there’s been a lot of talk about the issue over the last couple of years, there’s been little action to tackle it,” Oxfam stated, saying it’s the poorest who suffer the most due to this “runaway inequality.”

Oxfam had actually predicted a year ago the one percent richest in the world is richer than the rest of the 99 percent combined — something that has happened sooner than expected. According to the global organization, a major reason for such income disparity has to do with the tax havens that have allowed large corporations and rich individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, with offshore bank accounts that deprive governments of the revenues needed to build infrastructure, provide vital basic services to the poor and address rising income inequality.

This is even more critical in developing countries, Oxfam noted, adding that this is not good for the world or the economy for that matter. A lot of economists also believe that gross inequality slows down growth as lesser people can afford to buy, which in turn could result in economic and political instability. Certainly, this is something that the world’s leaders should look at.

Justice Carpio: Champion of maritime integrity


Many agree with the position of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that our alliance with the United States and the presence of their troops in the country will give the Philippines a fighting chance in defending its territory especially in light of the unrelenting boldness and aggression of China in the disputed maritime territories in the Spratlys. The Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement as constitutional is a welcome development that has boosted the confidence of many Filipinos, who are aware that compared to China, our military capabilities are sadly pathetic, to put it mildly.

The EDCA will make the Chinese think twice about attacking the Philippine ships in the Spratlys, said Carpio, who is the one who helped put together the basis of the case filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs against China before the UN arbitral tribunal. The senior SC associate justice did extensive legal work on the issues surrounding China’s nine-dash line claim, and debunked the Chinese position in a paper titled “Historical Facts, Historical Lies, and Historical Rights in the West Philippine Sea” complete with maps, illustrations, annotations on international cases and rulings as well as recorded events to prop up the Philippine position.

Just because a body of water was “historically” named after a country does not mean ownership by the latter of the entire body of water, the SC justice pointed out, like the Indian Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico for instance. As for those who keep harping on the loss of our sovereignty, a lot of Filipinos think that is nonsense, saying we are in more danger of losing our territorial integrity and sovereignty if we push away allies like the US.

Maynilad to spend over P13 billion on capex

Maynilad Water consumers will be glad to know that the water utility is setting aside someP13.6 billion on capital expenditures (capex) this year, with P7.5 billion of its capex budget going to infrastructure projects that will ensure sufficient water supply and water pressure in its West Zone service area. Meantime, the rest of the budget will be utilized for wastewater management, sewerage and sanitation projects, automation of facilities as well as several acquisitions in the pipeline.

Majority owned by Metro Pacific Investment Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc., Maynilad is the contractor of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System for certain parts of Manila, Makati and Quezon City, along with Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon; and the cities of Bacoor and Imus and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in Cavite.

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Email: spybits08@gmail.com

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