GLOBAL & PUBLIC FINANCE
On June 23 we mark World Public Services Day to call attention to millions of peoples in Asia living in conditions of impoverishment and deprivation. Many of them are without even the most essential services such as water and health that are required to have decent and humane lives.
Many Asian governments have resorted to privatizing social services, citing financial incapacity to continue providing these. They have also persisted in depending on borrowings and foreign investments to support the development of infrastructure in sectors as basic as primary and maternal health, education and literacy, community development, disaster preparedness and climate resilience. For instance, public expenditures for health have consistently remained below the 5% of GDP international standard resulting, among others, in a regression of the Maternal Mortality Ratio from 162 to 221 for the Philippines and from 228 to 359 for Indonesia.
Yet we find that governments are giving away the very revenues critical to providing these social services. Asia has been found to have the biggest share of policy changes, including tax policies, to accommodate far-reaching investment incentives. In such a context, it is not surprising that the region has been losing trillions of dollars in foregone revenues due largely to tax dodging practices of corporations.
Meanwhile, we are being taxed with grim regularity as waged workers. As ordinary consumers we are also unfailingly taxed through indirect or consumption taxes on a wide range of goods and services, thus unfairly increasing the economic burdens of lower income groups and the informal sector where women are especially concentrated.
Developing country governments bend to the pressure of international financial institutions to increase indirect taxes such as VAT, despite acknowledging their unjust impacts, instead of compelling MNCs and rich individuals to pay their obligations. Instead of mobilizing the necessary finances for basic social services and development needs, they persist in a path of privatization and debt dependence. They violate a core principle of their authority to tax, that these revenues must be diligently raised and carefully used for the needs and interests of their people.
We believe that providing essential social services is a state obligation of the highest priority because it is critical to the enjoyment of many other human rights that states have committed to protect and fulfil. In fact, the state’s right to tax goes hand in hand with the state’s obligations to protect and uphold the rights of its citizens, promote equity and justice, provide for essential services and, be transparent and democratic in formulation and implementation of budget, spending and policies. Tax policies and systems should be aimed at raising resources for people’s basic and development needs, not as instrumental for ensuring more profits for corporations and the wealthy.
Today, we claim the resources that are rightfully ours to support urgent needs for food, health, water, energy, climate adaptation and other social services vital to our well-being and the enjoyment of our basic rights. We demand tax justice as a key requisite to our survival, a life of dignity and a humane and sustainable future.
Our money, our needs, our rights! Public revenues in public services! Scrap tax incentives for corporations and the rich! No to tax dodging by corporations and wealthy elites! Tax justice now!
Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (a part of the Jubilee South network)
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), its member organizations, its colleagues in the Jubilee South network, and its partners in the international community stand together with the people of Nepal as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes and deal with unimaginable devastation, suffering and loss.
Once again, it has taken a disaster of massive proportions to highlight and remind the world of the intense vulnerabilities that people living in impoverishment and deprivation bear. Nearly 8,000 have died because of the first earthquake alone, and many more are missing, injured, starving and homeless.
One of the Least Developed Countries, Nepal ranks close to the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index, 145th out of 187 countries. The slight improvement from 2014 means that the little gains made have but all been wiped out by the quake. Nepal is one of many countries in Asia where over a billion people are known to be living barely above the extreme poverty line between US$1.25 to US$2.50 a day. Already under several layers of socio-economic deprivations, they are at great risk of regressing into deeper impoverishment than before in the face of catastrophe and crises.
Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development
Cancel Nepal’s debt – Asian people’s groups
MANILA, 14 May 2015 – An Asian civil society alliance and its partners today called for the cancellation of all of Nepal’s debts in the aftermath of two strong earthquakes that struck the country.
“We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and the rest of the Nepal in these critical moments. We ask governments, international financial institutions, international banks, and other lenders to do the same by immediately, totally, and unconditionally cancelling the country’s debts,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).
Nepal’s finance ministry reported that the country owes a total of almost US$3.5 billion in external debts as of last October. Just above US$3 billion are owed to multilateral banks such as the Asian Development Bank and International Development Association.
“Already a Least Developed Country, Nepal is pushed back at least by a decade in its development efforts by these devastating earthquakes,” said Dr. Sarba Khadka of Rural Reconstruction Nepal, an APMDD member organization, which endorsed the alliance’s statement.
The alliance’s other Nepalese member organizations – mostly rural, human rights, and women’s groups currently providing relief support – supported the call along with movements from other countries.
More than 8,000 people have died and an estimated eight million people have been affected by the first, magnitude-7.8 earthquake which hit Nepal last April 25. A magnitude-7.3 quake followed 2 days ago (May 12), claiming the lives of at least 76 more also in India and Tibet.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (formerly Jubilee South–Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development) is a regional alliance of peoples' movements and organizations, coalitions, and non-governmental organizations.
APMDD’s Nepalese members Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Right to Food Network Nepal, Jagaran Nepal, and Campaign for Climate Justice–Nepal support the call for debt cancellation, along with its Nepal-based networks South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication and LDC [Least Developed Countries] Watch.
The Nepali debt report can be accessed at http://www.fcgo.gov.np/wp-content/uploads/QuarterlyDebtPosition_1st_Quarter_2071-72.pdf
Uniting on a commitment to work and promote common advocacies and campaigns on tax and fiscal justice
Last September 1-2, 58 participants from social movements, people’s organizations, coalitions, unions and NGOs from different Asian regions formed the Asia Tax Justice Network. The pioneering move was inspired by a commitment to work and promote common advocacies and campaigns on tax and fiscal justice.
The East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia subregions were represented by organizations from Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China and Australia.
JSAPMDD led in organizing the assembly with co-convenors that included Economic Reforms (AER), Bantay Kita, EquityBD, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Koalisi Anti-Utang (KAU), Prakarsa Indonesia, Praxis India, Public Services International (PSI) Asia/Pacific, Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization (MSN), Tax Justice Network Australia, Revenue Watch, Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), LDC Watch.
JSAPMDD held two workshops as part of the week-long activities of the Social Movements for an Alternative Asia and the Indonesian National Coalition against Neoliberalism and Imperialism/Gerak Lawan which were timed with the 9th Ministerial of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia. The Global Week of Action from December 1-6, 2013 brought together peoples' organizations and movements from different countries who highlighted the adverse impacts on people and communities, livelihoods and the environment of the corporate-ruled, free trade regime and resoundingly called for an end to the WTO. (See http://smaa.asia/action-plan-and-roadmap-to-bali and http://smaa.asia/endwto/gerak-lawan-social-movements-for-an-alternative-asia-will-take-to-the-street-on-the-opening-of-the-wtos-9th-ministerial-in-bali for more details)
The JSAPMDD-organized Forum on Trade and Climate Justice on December 5 made the the connections between trade and the climate crisis. It called attention to critical areas and issues for action and surfacing unities for coordinated advocacy and campaigning in the region.