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UN chief calls for higher taxes on ‘grotesque’ oil and gas profits

UNITED Nations chief Antonio Guterres is calling on all governments to ramp up taxes on oil and gas, accusing fossil fuel giants of “grotesque greed.”

The unusual intervention on economic policy came as the biggest energy companies worldwide reported combined quarterly profits of almost $100 billion (£82bn).

“This grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people, while destroying our only common home, the planet,” Mr Guterres said at a press conference on Wednesday night.

The secretary-general spoke at the launch of a report by the Global Crisis Response Group he set up to tackle the triple interconnected crises of food, energy and finance which have especially hit countries trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and deal with the devastating impact of the war in Ukraine.

“We are seeing excessive, scandalous profits of the oil and gas industry in a moment in which all of us are losing money” because of soaring inflation, he said, adding that “nothing will be more popular than to tax the excessive profits and to distribute that money to the most vulnerable.”

Mr Guterres said progress was being made on resuming food exports from Ukraine, most of whose Black Sea ports are blockaded by Russian ships. 

The first grain ship to leave Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 left yesterday, heading for Lebanon after a three-hour inspection in Turkish waters and carrying 26,000 tons of maize. 

Another ship which Ukraine says is carrying grain stolen by Russia — a claim Russia denies — left Lebanon for Syria, to protests from Kiev.

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