Tax justice issues in Asia highlighted in 2016 World Social Forum
APMDD led the Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia’s (TAFJA) participation in various events organized by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and many other groups and movements as part of the 2016 World Social Forum (WSF) held in Montreal in August.
These organizations included the Global Alliance for Tax Justice [Tax Justice Network–Africa, Red de Justicia Fiscal de América Latina y el Caribe, North America (Canadians for Tax Fairness/ Fact Coalition/TJN-USA), Tax Justice Europe], RightingFinance, Center for Economic and Social Rights, Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, MiningWatch Canada, AWID, Eurodad, Tax Justice Network, Oxfam, ActionAid, Christian Aid, Public Services International, KEPA (Finnish NGO Platform), Global Progressive Forum, among others.
Asia’s experiences with domestic revenue erosion and discriminatory tax policies, and the impacts on peoples, particularly women, were given focus in the following events:
Tax Justice and the Fight Against Poverty, August 10
APMDD Coordinator Lidy Nacpil spoke at the discussion workshop “Tax Justice and the Fight Against Poverty” organized in the main by Global Progressive Forum.
This event critiqued the international financial system, noting the rampant practice of speculation and the unhampered pursuit of profit, among others. It also showed how this system has triggered crisis on a global scale and caused poverty, rising inequalities and a huge debt crises, in both developed and developing countries. Tax justice was focused on as an arena where social justice and solidarity can be realized.
“We must pinpoint the bias of our governments for corporations and the harmful race to the bottom in corporate taxation,” said Nacpil.
Tax Justice and Human Rights Forum, August 11
The discussion revolved around the importance of governments applying equitable taxation policies to meet their obligations to deliver social and economic rights to everyone. Panelists showed the ways taxation is critical to finance for development and serves as a tool for stimulating poverty reduction – including sustainable investment in public services and infrastructure. Taxation was also highlighted as a key vehicle for ensuring women’s equality.
APMDD’s input stressed that tax justice is not separate from human rights, but it actually the application of human rights to tax issues and tax policy advocacies. It was pointed out that while human rights continues to be an important platform, with great convening authority, its modality of constructive dialogue with states and progressive realization of rights also have their limitations in bringing about concrete and urgently needed.
Women and Girls, Equality and Tax Justice, August 11
Addressing the WSF theme, “Fight against the Dictatorship of Finance and for Resource Distribution,” the discussion showed the different ways that gender justice is linked inextricably to tax justice. Panelists from different countries and regions spoke on the impacts of tax cuts, combined with austerity and privatization measures, particularly in undermining and eroding women’s progress toward economic and social equality.
We covered the direct and indirect gender impacts of discriminatory tax law provisions, regressive consumption taxes, fiscal incentives and tax havens. APMDD shared the major points from its Gender and Tax primer.
Discussion on Tax Justice and the Extractive Industries, August 12
In line with the WSF programming theme of Global Struggles and International Solidarity, this workshop intended to bring people from south and north to talk about the tax justice issues in the extractives industry in different countries and regions; and to discuss common messaging, strategies and opportunities for joint action at national, regional and global levels.
The small meeting of tax justice advocates and campaigners focused on cross-border mining investments and how movements and organizations can complement each other’s advocacy and campaigning efforts on revenue erosion through tax incentives and possible legal action, in addition to grave and irreversible environmental destruction.
2016 WSF Declaration
The concluding tax justice convergence assembly endorsed the World Social Forum 2016 Declaration “Disarm finance and achieve tax justice” and supported the resolution to hold a Global Day of Action against tax havens.
* Photos: Teresa Marshall, Global Alliance for Tax Justice
 Formerly the Asian Fiscal and Tax Justice Alliance