Carlos Slim, the world's richest man by the latest Forbes ranking with an estimated $53.5 billion, tells CNBC he won't be signing onto the Giving Pledge, the invitation to philanthropy created by Warren Buffett (#3 on the Forbes list with $47.0 billion) and Bill Gates (#2, $53.0 billion).
The program asks the "wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death."
In a taped interviewin Mexico with Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Slim says business people should help to fight poverty, but he doesn't think giving to charity is the best way to do so, and he doesn't appear to like the idea of a specific target.
Slim: But why half? Why half? First of all, what we need to do as businessmen, is to help to solve the problems, the social problems. To fight poverty, but not by charity.
Let's say, how much they will collect? Let's suppose they collect $300 billion immediately. They make them tax deductible, so the government will have less money because of that. To put this cash they need to sell their companies. I think it will be a big mistake that companies like Microsoft, Apple, the leaders of the world in technology be sold by the founders to put the cash to fund charities, to fund charity. They shouldn't. It is more important that they continue manage the companies.
Let's go to the other point. Three-hundred billion dollars, tax deductible. That means they will take a bigger fiscal deficit to the government, no? You agree with that part?
Caruso-Cabrera: Yes, absolutely.
Slim: Then they will give 5% a year, that is $15 billion. What's $15 billion to solve problems? Nothing. What will be more important is that all of his geniality (genius) and the knowledge to manage this business, to put them to solve the problems.
Caruso-Cabrera: Create jobs.
Slim: Create jobs. And also for health, for education. But we have told Bill and all the other people worldwide and we make it publicly, is that for every dollar that they put in Mexico, we put another dollar, in programs that we both agree to do. We are already doing some programs. It will be very important to support that.
And the focus we have is different. We don't say we will put half of that. For me to put, I should sell Telmex , America Movil , the mining. Will it be good for the country that I sell that-- is the first question? To whom will I sell that? Foreigners. Here there is nobody that will pay. First, is it good to sell that? Second, if I give that, everything, 100 percent, not 50 percent, what will be that? Five-hundred dollars per person. Will that solve everything?
Slim's comments about having to sell his companies to fulfill the Giving Pledge appear to reflect a misunderstanding of the program.
Buffett and Gates are not seeking immediate cash donations. They are asking for a "moral commitment" to give in the future, not a "legal contract."
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