A group of more than 80 millionaires on Monday urged governments across the world to substantially increase taxes on them in order to accumulate more funds to fight the escalating coronavirus crisis.

The signatories from various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany and New Zealand, issued an open letter under the umbrella name “Millionaires for Humanity”, calling for an “immediate and permanent” imposition of higher taxes on them. The signatories included Ben and Jerry’s ice cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield and filmmaker Abigail Disney. No Indians were on the list.

“As Covid-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world,” they wrote in their letter. “No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals...But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.”

The signatories of the letter said that the coronavirus crisis would continue to impact the world for decades and there is an urgent need to adequately fund essential infrastructure. “It [coronavirus] could push half a billion more people into poverty. Hundreds of millions of people will lose their jobs as businesses close, some permanently,” they said. “And of course the absence of hospital beds, protective masks, and ventilators is a painful, daily reminder of the inadequate investment made in public health systems across the world.”

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The signatories said that the world owed a huge debt to workers who are fighting the raging coronavirus pandemic head-on. “Unlike tens of millions of people around the world, we do not have to worry about losing our jobs, our homes, or our ability to support our families,” the signatories said. “We are not fighting on the frontlines of this emergency and we are much less likely to be its victims. So please. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice.”

The coronavirus has infected more than 1.29 crore people across the world and killed over 5.69 lakh people. The lockdowns and other restrictions imposed by governments across the world to contain the fast-spreading infection have severely damaged the global economy. Agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have repeatedly released grim growth forecasts. The United Nations, meanwhile, has warned of a worsening hunger crisis.

Also read: Covid-19: IMF says Indian economy will contract by 4.5% in 2020-’21, global GDP will decline by 4.9%