14thmarch

ONE (SG) to France: Set the right example with a Robin Hood Tax

By Thulasi Mahadevan

ONE (SINGAPORE) has joined an international campaign to send a clear message to France:  allocate a portion of new tax revenues from a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) to finance development and fight climate change.

France is about to become the first European country to adopt the so-called “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions.  But contrary to promises that French President Nicolas Sarkozy made when he hosted the G20 last year, France is now talking about using proceeds from the tax solely for domestic use.

“A small tax on financial transactions, if implemented globally, could raise billions of dollars to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and assist communities affected by climate change,” says ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow.  “France is taking an important first step by adopting a Robin Hood Tax, but it must follow through by using a portion of the money to finance development and fight climate change.”

French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel had been commended by many anti-poverty campaigners for their commitments to push forward with a European FTT, a very small tax on financial transactions which if implemented globally could raise up to US$600 billion a year, funds that could be used to eradicate poverty, fight climate change and reduce budget deficits.

However in a television interview on 29 January, Sarkozy said that the unilateral FTT would be used for the national “deficit” and did not mention development or climate financing. Under pressure from French civil society, Sarkozy later said that a French FTT would still go to fund development and fight climate change, but no concrete steps have been taken by his government yet in this regard.

Proper implementation of a Robin Hood Tax in France will “set a precedent for future taxes on the financial sector, both across Europe and internationally . . . to tackle the challenges of poverty at home and abroad and address the impact of climate change,” wrote ONE (SINGAPORE) President Vernetta Lopez in a letter to France’s Ambassador to Singapore.  Other civil society organisations like Oxfam GB and ONE.org also sent letters to French embassies.  The ONE.org petition was signed by more than 60,000 people.

Last year, 1000 economists – including several Nobel Prize winners – called on the G20 to adopt a FTT.  More recently, faith-based leaders have added their voices to the call.

“The FTT comes at no extra cost for the average tax payer, who is shouldering the cost of responses to global crises,” notes a representative from CIDSE, the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity.  “The financial sector has hugely profited from globalisation.  Through the FTT it could contribute to tackling global challenges, share the financial burden of global crises and contribute to assuring a safe and healthy future for people and the planet.”

In the United States, meanwhile, the largest nurses union has pledged to march for a US version of the tax on Wall Street institutions ahead of the the G-8 and NATO summits. It’s unclear whether the Obama administration’s decision to move the G-8 Summit from Chicago to “Camp David,” a more remote location, will affect the planned demonstrations.

14 Mar 2012 (1)

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