The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said that the total wealth of the 31 richest billionaires in the Arab region - all of them men - is roughly equal to that of the poorest half of its adult population.

In a study published on its website today, ESCWA added that inequality will increase due to the effects of the Corona virus, but it can be reduced through an appropriately designed solidarity tax.

The Arab region suffers from inequality, where the wealth of the richest 10% of adults represents more than 75% of the total wealth of families in the region.

The committee pointed out that the Arab region is the only developing region where poverty caused by low income has increased in the last decade, and the study expected that this year, poverty affects about a third of the population of Arab middle-income and least developed countries, or 115 million people in 14 countries, after it was affecting 66 million people in 2010.

The study attributed the reason for the increase in poverty in the region to conflict and economic recession, and expected the situation to be aggravated by the
Covid 19- pandemic .

The new study comes as part of a series of studies to assess the impact of the Corona virus prepared by ESCWA to support Arab countries in their joint efforts to mitigate the effects of this global epidemic.

 Solidarity tax

UN-ESCWA explained in its study that it is possible to save millions of middle-income people from poverty out of poverty by adopting a solidarity tax on wealth of 1.2%, based on the fact that the cost of bridging the poverty gap in these countries increases to $ 15.6 billion in 2020, but it is modest compared to the wealth of the segment The richest decade is estimated to be $ 1.3 trillion.

The Executive Secretary of the Committee, Rola Dashti, stressed that "it is necessary to implement initiatives in favor of the poor, which are supported by the richest ten years and have a direct positive impact on the social groups most at risk."

Dashti called for the creation of a regional social solidarity fund to accelerate the mitigation of the consequences of the Covid 19 pandemic, meet humanitarian needs and address food shortages in countries most at risk.

In most Arab countries - ESCWA says - the real estate sector attracts major investments, but it does little to contribute to tax revenues.

The study also suggested the establishment of a fair and progressive tax system, backed by strong political will and institutional capabilities, that would lead to collecting the necessary revenues to fight poverty without imposing additional financial burdens.

ESCWA stressed that this solidarity tax is not suitable for Arab countries that are less developed and conflict-stricken, as the wealth of the richest segment of the population of these countries is not sufficient to cover the cost of eradicating poverty, which increases the need for other financial policies to generate revenue, and most importantly to external assistance .