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EU Nations urged to implement Robin Hood tax

By Melissa Chong

ONE (SINGAPORE) has joined hands with more than 350 civil society organisations from around the world, urging the heads of 11 European countries to implement a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT).

This comes after the European Commission announced plans to severely scale back the FTT, amid opposition on the economic damage it could cause.

5 Aug 2013

But civil society groups continue to argue that a Global tax of just 0.05% on financial transactions could raise up to US$650 billion a year, channeling much-needed funds to fight global poverty and climate change.

They urge that the tax could also dis-incentivize risky speculation and short-term trading, which poses high risks to economic stability. A Europe-wide FTT could set the precedent for reforming the financial sector, which has so far been exempted from the contributing to the common good.

The 355 signatories to the letter include Oxfam International, Greenpeace, WWF International and the World AIDS Campaign. A copy of the letter was sent to Algirdas Šemeta, the European Commissioner in charge of tax policy, who said she was impressed with the level of international support for the FTT. The special advisor of French President, Francois Hollande, has also agreed to pass the letter on to Hollande.

Seven months ago, Germany and France led nine other countries – Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia – to press ahead with the levy, having failed to persuade all 27 EU members to sign up.

The financial lobby continues to attack the levy, raising alarm bells about the economic damage it could cause to industry, jobs and finances. Britain remains fiercely in opposition, believing the levy would drive business from London to New York instead. Sir Mervyn King, Bank of England Governor, said he “could not find anyone within the central banking community who thinks it is a good idea.”

Amid the criticisms, the European Commission announced in July 2013 that it is prepared to consider a redesign of the original proposal. It may now be rolled out six months later than the intended start date of January 2014. The levy could also be reduced by up to 90%, raising just a fraction of the amount hoped.

As the debate in Europe continues, it is likely that anti-poverty campaigners will continue to lobby relentlessly for the Robin Hood Tax to be implemented in full. David Hillman, a spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said: “There remains a firm intention to agree to a strong FTT that will be popular with the public and raise tens of billions from the banking industry.”

This article was edited by Michael Switow

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