4 Indonesians wealthier than poorest 100 million: Oxfam

Jakarta - The four richest Indonesians are wealthier than the poorest 100 million people in the country, a study has found, highlighting how huge numbers have been left behind as the economy booms.

Oxfam said that President Joko Widodo had failed to fulfil pledges to fight inequality and called on the government to urgently increase spending on public services and make corporations and the wealthy pay more tax.

Indonesia has enjoyed an economic boom that has reduced the number of people living in extreme poverty but the gap between rich and poor has risen faster than in any other Southeast Asian country in the past 20 years, the Oxfam study said.

"The benefits of growth have not been shared equally, and millions have been left behind," said the research, which was released earlier this week.

"The widening of the gap between the rich and the rest is a serious threat to Indonesia's future prosperity. If inequality is not tackled, then reducing poverty will be much more difficult, and social instability could increase."

Read also: World's 8 richest as wealthy as half of humanity: Oxfam

Forbes' 2017 world billionaires ranking

In 2016, the collective wealth of the four richest Indonesians, all men, was US$25 billion (S$35.36 billion), Oxfam said. This was more than the total wealth of the 100 million poorest, out of a population of 255 million, it said.

According to Forbes rich list, the wealthiest included three tobacco tycoons - brothers Michael and Budi Hartono, and Susilo Wonowidjojo.

The study said inequality has been rising since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which led to the introduction of more free market policies.

This shift allowed those at the top to capture the greatest share of the benefits of years of strong growth, it said. The study pointed to rising inequality within cities, and between urban and rural areas.

Oxfam said Indonesia's taxation system had failed to play a role in redistributing wealth as it was not collecting nearly as much revenue as it should, while an underfunded education system was stopping many from getting better jobs.

In January the government launched a major programme to tackle inequality that included measures aimed at helping poor farmers and fishermen, improving the tax system and providing more opportunities for vocational training.

8 common traits of the world's 2,473 billionaires

  • They're mostly male. There are 2,179 male billionaires, compared to a scant 294 female billionaires, and 140 of the 148 newly minted billionaires this year were male.
  • They're increasingly entrepreneurial. E.g. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, one of the world's most phenomenal social media sites.
  • They're predominantly self-made. 57 per cent of the world's billionaires are self-made.
  • They tend to have a bachelor's degree. 70 per cent of billionaires possess a bachelor's degree.
  • They're often in their 60s. E.g. Bill Gates, 60, is one of the world's most famous billionaires.
  • They're typically married. More than 85 per cent of billionaires are married and have an average of three children.
  • They're highly charitable. Founder and CEO of Bloomberg Media Michael Bloomberg has donated $4.3 billion over his lifetime.
  • They also enjoy travel and art. Behind philanthropy, the second and third most popular interests are travel and art: 31 per cent of today's billionaires report travel as a passion, while 29 per cent report art.