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Warning of greater fiscal risk amid the multiple crises, experts and debt justice campaigners called attention to rising public debt from private creditors and discussed ways to address this in a webinar organized by APMDD last June 21. 

The discussion, Public burden, private gain: Sovereign debt “relief” from private lenders, took place against a backdrop of swiftly and massively accumulating public debt. World Bank debt statistics show that low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) incurred  $8.6 trillion of external debts as of end 2020, of which $3.4 trillion of are public and publicly-guaranteed long-term debts.

In her opening remarks, APMDD’s Mae Buenaventura said that, “An increasing portion of these debts are owed to private creditors whose shares in public external debt have steadily increased over the years – from 38% in 2000, 45% in 2010 and 60% in 2019.”

World Bank data also reveals that 63% of LMICs’ long-term public external debts are owed to private creditors, mostly in the form of bonds. In South Asia, their share is 38% while in East Asia and the Pacific region (excluding high income countries), it is a staggering 73%.

Global Policy Forum’s Bodo Ellmers explained the beginnings of this trend. “Private lending became such an important source of finance for governments in the Global South in recent years because of much liquidity on financial markets flowing mostly from richer countries, from developed countries to developing countries. Developing country governments hence had no problems in accessibility to financial markets and took out loans at higher costs. However this will entirely change now because of the massive liquidity squeeze on financial markets.” Buenaventura further noted that the share of private lenders has now overtaken official creditors in many countries, especially in middle-income countries where commercial banks and debt securities markets have been tapped to finance public spending. Official creditors—which include bilateral and multilateral lenders—offer some (not all) concessional loans which carry lower interest rates and longer payment terms than commercial loans.

Indebted countries commonly borrow fresh loans to service interest and principal payments falling due. Ellmers warned that the increase of interest rates in several central banks have an enormous impact on the debt service costs and on the conditions to which countries can access private debt.

Privately-held sovereign debts have largely been untouched by the failed Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and the succeeding Common Framework by the G20 with support from the most influential Northern nations and leading multilateral financial institutions. They proved ineffective in bringing private lenders to restructure public debts in any significant terms that will enable Southern borrowers grappling with health and economic crises. 

Tim Jones of Debt Justice (UK) spoke on attempts by Southern nations seeking debt relief from private lenders. He said that while there are definitely challenges to restructuring and defaulting on debt, it is in the interests of private creditors to “make these challenges appear overly complex and insurmountable so that governments do not initiate restructuring and continue servicing debts until they pay in full where the creditors make most of the profit.”

In Argentina’s case, Patricia Miranda of Red Latinoamaricana por Justicia Economica y Social  or Latindadd shared that, “The negotiation process was very difficult and was probably more in the favor of the creditors…[this] only reflects the urgent need of having a fair, timely, binding, independent and comprehensive debt restructuring process.” 

One of the difficulties of governments in restructuring debts from private creditors is that they  have to deal with multiple parties – none of whom are bound  by any rules, standards or authoritative bodies to renegotiate with their borrowers.  

Iolanda Fresnillo of the European Network on Debt and Development pointed out the “...need to challenge the narrative that the objective of any country should be maintaining and keeping market access… development shouldn’t also be dependent on whether a country has access to financial markets.” She added that “structural reforms should be pushed for as well as rules-based transparent framework in the debt restructuring process with strengthened citizens’ participation as oversight.” 

Pooja Rangaprasad from the Society for International Development emphasized the importance of pushing for a system-wide reform that will be supportive of the South in tackling private creditors. One of the ways is by urging the United Nations to finally convene the 4th Financing for Development Conference. 

“There is a lack of representation of the Global South in decision-making on debt sustainability assessments, debt data and policy lending and restructuring and debt statistics… The core challenge that really needs to be addressed is the need for a multilateral legal framework in [the] UN and for developing countries to be coordinated to protect their collective interests,” Rangaprasad concluded.

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Watch the recording of the webinar here:

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CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS DECRY "FALSE PROMISES" OF DOF FOR TRANSPARENCY IN THE EXTRACTIVES SECTOR
Groups to press for government monitoring of mining companies

Leaders of mining affected communities and civil society groups decried Friday a government official’s statement that the Philippines can ensure transparency in the extractives sector following the country’s withdrawal from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a platform for monitoring mining companies’ performance.

In a meeting to discuss strategies to press for transparency and accountability in the extractives sector the civil society organization (CSO) leaders said the government should halt its “subservience to corporate interests in the mining industry.”

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had earlier downplayed the withdrawal saying that the Philippine government  will “continue to champion better resource and revenue management” in place of the global multi-stakeholder mechanisms of the EITI.

However, CSO leaders were doubtful of the Philippine government’s commitment to champion peoples’ interests vis-a-vis the mining industry, citing the abundant privileges and incentives granted by the government to the sector despite its long history of questionable practices, including environmental degradation, tax and labor abuses.

“It is appalling that the Philippine government refuses to be transparent in policies and in its involvement in the extractive sector, ,” said Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD. “The extractive industries have proven to be harmful and destructive to the environment and have significantly contributed to the climate crisis.”

Nacpil also said the sector is “a hotbed of illicit financial flows that result in foregone revenues and drain our economies of financial and other resources that should have instead been used for peoples’ needs.”

The Philippine government should prioritize peoples’ needs in the face of multiple crises and  put an end to tax and human rights abuses of corporations in the extractives sector, she said.

Dr. Benito Molino, Chairperson of Zambales Lingap Kalikasan (ZALIKA) denounced the latest move of the Department of Finance (DOF) to abscond a platform involving government, mining corporations, and civil society that requires its members to publish financial information according to a standard.

“Withdrawing from the EITI only further shows that this government is a willing puppet of extractive industries, especially mining,” Dr. Molino said. “As the Philippine government plays the role of eager servant to mining corporations, we foresee intensified extraction of natural resources and continuing impunity for corporations’ tax, labor, and other abuses. This will aggravate the destruction of areas for food production and will worsen our current food and environmental crises.”

Dr. Molino is a veteran of a long battle mounted by communities in Sta. Cruz Zambales, calling on the Philippine government to sanction mining corporations for the irreversible degradation of agricultural lands and fisheries in the area.

In 2017, four of these mining corporations were ordered to close as a result of the government's investigation of their violations of environmental laws. However, these orders were overturned in 2019.

The companies investigated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated, Eramen Minerals Inc.

More recently, the lifting of Executive Order 79 imposing a moratorium on the approval of new licenses for mining corporations “guaranteed a new lease on life for mining corporations in Zambales,” Dr Molino said.

Dominguez’s pronouncement to champion transparency in the extractives sector offers nothing more than “false promises,” according to Fara Diva Gamalo, Coordinator of women’s organization Oriang in Eastern Visayas. “Public officials like Dominguez who have vested interests in protecting profits of mining corporations hold no moral high ground to institute policies strengthening accountability in the extractives sector,” Gamalo stated.

“For as long as the DOF is hostage to corporate interests in the extractives sector, the demands of local communities to exact accountability from mining corporations will remain unheeded,” Gamalo said.

At the forefront of the anti-mining struggles in Eastern Visayas, Gamalo has stood witness to the widespread impunity in human rights violations committed against leaders of local communities who demand simply for the government to protect their homes and livelihoods by prohibiting the destructive operation of mining corporations.

Meanwhile, in a message sent to Philippine-based CSOs, Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) Executive Director Matti Kohonen said the Philippine government’s recent withdrawal from the EITI  is “a serious step back for transparency in the extractive sector, including financial transparency on ownership and taxes paid in the sector.”

The FTC is a global network of organizations working to help curb illicit financial flows with members in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and North America.

Kohonen emphasized the need to  maintain  public registries of beneficial owners in extractive companies, and to regularly update and expand it to include fisheries and forestry.

A public beneficial ownership (BO) registry provides access to  information on companies’ beneficial owners, the individuals who ultimately own, control or benefit from the companies’ profits. CSO leaders said that such registries can be important tools in fighting tax abuse and corruption and can aid in  recovering foregone revenues from profits of mining corporations stored in offshore accounts.

The CSO leaders cited the 2021 State of Tax Justice Report saying untaxed wealth is but a fraction of the PhP 26 trillion lost to tax abuses globally of wealthy individuals and corporations. Aggressive and systematic tax avoidance practiced by extractive companies through transfer pricing and trade misinvoicing result in massive tax losses for the Philippines, they pointed out. 

They said government inaction to address these issues prompted the tax justice movement to mount protests at the DOF in November last year, demanding public investigations into the tax and labor abuses of mining corporations exposed in the Pandora Papers. The prevalence of profit-shifting and tax avoidance in the extractives sector, whose profits prosper amidst financial secrecy, also points to the weakness of global standards of financial transparency and lack of public access to beneficial ownership information. 

The longstanding demands by civil society for transparency and accountability are foregrounded by a history of unjust practices, including tax abuses and massive illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the Philippine extractives sector. These IFFs are jointly enabled by a domestic fiscal regime that encourages tax avoidance through decades-long tax incentives to mining corporations and a global tax architecture that continues to permit profit-shifting to low-tax jurisdictions. The Pandora Papers expose in 2021 implicated political and business elites across the world, including Philippines, in shady but systematic practices to hide wealth in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes.

“It is imperative to transform global and domestic tax rules, to effectively curb IFFs and end the privileged status enjoyed by mining companies because of the   generous tax and other fiscal incentives granted by many governments in Asia, including the Philippines,” Nacpil said.  “Tax abuses by corporations and wealthy individuals and other types of IFFs  significantly drain tax revenues and public resources urgently needed to fund public services.”

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WE ARE WORKERS TOO! Recognizing unpaid care workers through tax and fiscal justice

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Download the PDF Version: pdfWE ARE WORKERS TOO! Recognizing unpaid care workers through tax and fiscal justice

Governments’ reliance on indirect taxes to raise revenues adds more burden to low-income families, instead of economic relief. Value-added Tax (VAT), Goods and Services Tax (GST), and excise taxes on fuel are especially burdensome for women who generally earn less than men and who take on a bigger share of care and domestic work. Given this, plus the impacts of austerity measures prescribed by international financial institutions and decades-long privatization of essential services, women's struggles for survival and economic and gender justice have become even more acute. As women’s labor is exploited in homes and factories, the vast majority of women across the world continue to be time-poor, earn less than men, and have the least access to productive and other resources needed for social and economic resilience in times of crisis.

 

Millions of women across the world take on the bigger share of care work for families and households, a great deal of which are unpaid labor, and spend more of their income on basic household goods. The situation of women and other care workers who have no income of their own is often worse. Having to pay consumption tax for basic necessities worsens the already appalling situation of unpaid care workers, especially those who care for families that are barely surviving.

 

On top of the daily grind of taking care of the sick and elderly, cooking, cleaning, teaching children, and making do with deficient social services, the majority of women still have to find ways to earn to increase the income of their households. Surviving on a single income is almost impossible for many families and households. Many women have had to take on odd jobs (laundry, piece work, etc) or find informal work even in the formal sector.

 

While many women would prefer to seek formal employment, they are constrained by care duties at home and the lack of state provisions for child care and other physical and social infrastructures needed to enable them to work ‘outside the home’ without sacrificing care responsibilities. The 2017 ILO-Gallup report points out that, globally, a majority of women, including those who are not in the workforce, would prefer to work paid jobs. However, they were constrained by the challenges of work-family balance and lack of affordable care such as daycare centers for children.

 

Social norms, gender stereotypes, and macroeconomic policies that undervalue care work as “women’s work” or serve to confine women to unpaid domestic work and limit their social and economic mobility serve as barriers to women’s full enjoyment of their rights: right to education, decent work, right to access public spaces and be represented in decision-making, and many others. These discriminate against women, perpetuate gender pay gaps, exacerbate the “feminization” of poverty, and continue to disempower millions of women across the world.


 “Women’s work” by the numbers 

An International Labor Organization (ILO) report issued in June 2018 states that gender stereotypes and biases toward care work are still influential even as attitudes towards the gender division of paid and unpaid care work are changing. 

The ‘male breadwinner’ family model along with women’s traditional caring role remains deeply ingrained within societies. The report says, globally, women perform 76.2 percent of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men.  In Asia and the Pacific, this rises to 80 percent with men performing the lowest share of unpaid care work of all regions (1 hour and 4 minutes). In Pakistan,  men devote a mere 28 minutes or 8.0 percent of their total working time. In India, men do only 31 minutes (7.9 percent) of unpaid care work. 

According to the ILO report, with data on two-thirds of the world’s working age population, 16.4 billion hours per day are spent in unpaid care work - the equivalent to 2 billion people working eight hours per day with no remuneration. Were such services to be valued on the basis of an hourly minimum wage, they would amount to 9 percent of global GDP or US$11 trillion (purchasing power parity in 2011).

Reference: Care Work And Care Jobs

https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_633166.pdf


The undervaluation of care and care work, is reflected in the gross imbalances and gaps in national budgets and lack of publicly funded care services, support systems for care workers, and physical and social infrastructures needed to reduce and redistribute care work. Care – caring for families, communities, and society as a whole – is an essential need and function of any society; it is not “just a woman’s responsibility,”  but the collective responsibility of society.

 

The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) advances a comprehensive agenda for tax and gender justice that takes into account the multiple and intersecting layers of discrimination that women in Asia face and particularly notes the following1:

  • “The invisible and unpaid care work of women; the multiple responsibilities of housework; and economic activity for income -- Women assume a hugely disproportionate share of care labor or social reproduction. Taking care of the household, the children, the elderly, and the sick are still mainly seen as ‘women’s work’ – which are not valued (not seen as work) or undervalued (not seen as equally important to other work) and largely unpaid. The invisibility of women’s work is also an issue in economic production, where some of the work that women do are not recognized as part of the production process. It has been said that women perform more than two-thirds of the world’s work, produce almost half of the world’s food, yet only receive a small fraction of the income they would have otherwise earned, and only own one percent of property.

“Care labor and more specifically social reproductive work are not only largely unrecognized and uncompensated, but it also continues to be exploited under capitalism and made to feed into global trade and production chains in the current context of neoliberal globalization. It is also assumed that such care work rendered by women will take on the burdens resulting from the steady decline in public subsidies, or when essential social services are privatized.”

“We challenge such measures as the household and GDP, that do not take into account micro to macro inequalities in power and entitlements and fail to recognize the significant contributions of women’s unpaid work throughout human history.”

 

  • “Women’s status and treatment within the family and within the context of marriage -- Despite playing a central role in caring for the family, women have secondary and/or subordinated status in the family with less power and privileges. Issues under this include women’s subjugation in the household decision-making process, the prevalence of domestic violence, prioritization of children’s and male partners’ health and nutrition over women’s, unjust household practices such as the dowry system, child/forced marriages, domestic violence, male-privileging inheritance and property rights, and discrimination over single and female-headed households, the problematic assumption that heads of households are always male.”

 

The road to equality for women requires a change of course, most especially to assert the cause and rights of the most vulnerable women which includes unpaid care workers.

 

Fiscal and tax systems should thus be transformed to ‘make taxes work for women,’ revalue care and render what is due to unpaid care workers; truly serve the interests of people and  the planet, and work for the building of just and equitable societies. Toward these ends, we advance the following calls and demands:

 

1. REDUCE UNJUST TAX BURDENS ON WOMEN; TAX THE RICH, NOT THE POOR

Regressive taxes like VAT and GST disproportionately burden women who make up the majority of the poor and who spend more on household necessities like food and utilities. The system of raising revenues by relying on indirect taxes only worsens the situation of unpaid care workers who do not earn any income to spend and who are part of or work with families who do not have much to spare as well. Unpaid care workers and women doing domestic work who have no regular income of their own but who have to care for families are hard pressed to manage with the additional VAT or GST on top of the prices of consumption goods.

 

But governments usually spare high-net-worth individuals and hard-to-tax groups, taxing regressively, while offering generous tax incentives to corporations. They focus on collecting sales and consumption taxes such as VAT, GST, and excise taxes that do not account for vast income disparities between the rich few and the poor majority. Meanwhile, tax avoidance and evasion by elite individuals and corporations remain unchecked and have led to the loss of potential tax revenues. (See article The Pandora Papers Exposé: Hoarding wealth amidst global hunger and uncertainties.)

 

VAT and GST are major sources of revenue in countries in Asia. But VAT, GST, and excise taxes on fuel weigh heavily on low-income households. In March, APMDD-India members agreed to campaign against the rise in fuel prices and LPG (Domestic Cooking Gas) prices. “Price increases in essential commodities impact women more than men as they are the ones who manage household expenses. A campaign to understand the issue is necessary," said one of the organizers of the consultation.

 

Unfortunately, some governments in the region are looking to increase regressive taxes further. Pakistan is likely to increase the sales tax rate to 18 percent from 17 percent in the federal budget 2022-2023. Sales taxes are, similar to VAT, regressive as a uniform amount is paid regardless of income.

 

In the Philippines, the Department of Finance is also proposing the expansion of the VAT  base and the repeal of exemptions to the incoming new government. The standard VAT rate of  12 percent of the gross selling price or gross value currently applies to most supplies of goods, properties, and services. Changes to the VAT regulations were made in 2021 under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act. The law introduced a lower corporate tax and increased the excise taxes on fuel, automobiles, tobacco, and sugar-sweetened beverages with corresponding impacts on the prices of other goods and services consumed by Filipinos.

 

Indonesia already increased the VAT rate from 10 percent to 11 percent, effective 1 April 2022. Basic goods and services (rice, meat, public transport, etc.) will continue to be exempted.

 

Instead of increasing the tax burdens of ordinary people, governments should instead work toward progressive taxation that has the potential to earn much bigger tax revenues.

 

2. REDUCE AND REDISTRIBUTE UNPAID CARE WORK; INCREASE ALLOCATION OF TAX REVENUES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES

The dismal state of public services, revealed so poignantly during the height of the pandemic, is the outcome of decades-long privatization of essential services, including health care, underfunding of public services and other ‘belt-tightening’ measures prescribed by the IMF-WB on developing countries. Debt servicing and military spending also ate up chunks of national budgets in the region. Systematic tax avoidance by corporations and the elite, and other forms of illicit financial flows led to foregone revenues and drained economies of precious resources much needed for public services.

 

But massive resources are needed for governments to decisively address the collective plight of unpaid care workers and fulfill the commitment to reduce and redistribute care work.

 

Tax revenues should be allocated to priority and essential public services that fulfill basic needs and rights, and serve to reduce and redistribute care work, such as the following: 

*Primary health care facilities, including quality and gender-responsive reproductive health care;

*Day care facilities and other social infrastructures that truly address women and children’s needs; 

*Assisted living facilities for the elderly and persons with disability, and public spaces and buildings with assistive technology; 

*Safe, women-friendly and accessible public spaces, especially markets, footbridges roads, and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) facilities, sources of clean and safe water; and  

*Lean, accessible and affordable, and safe energy for household needs.

3. RECOGNIZE, REPRESENT AND REWARD UNPAID CARE WORKERS

Barriers to care workers' social life, violations of their human rights, and their economic insecurity and poverty must be addressed as a matter of justice. Unpaid care workers, because they are not recognized as ‘workers’, do not enjoy basic workers’ rights including decent and fair wages, organization and joining of unions, economic initiative, social security, and retirement. Their workplaces – the ‘homes’ – are often deemed as ‘private spaces’ that are not supported or monitored for health and safety. They receive no assistance for sudden changes in work conditions, unlike other workers who have the right to assistance from loss of employment or receive some relief in emergencies like during the COVID-19 work slowdowns and closures.

 

Governments and societies must ensure their enjoyment of basic workers’ rights and other rights, including economic security, rest and leisure, equal access to public service, and participation in the cultural life of the community. Governments should ensure social protection, especially health and social security; ensure access to quality and gender-responsive continuing education and lifelong learning; and, reward unpaid care work through tax credits, VAT/ GST exemptions, and/or other financial instruments.

 

Tax systems should be rights-based and tax policies can be made to ensure that tax revenues are raised and spent in ways that promote human rights and gender equality. Governments must step up to adequately finance gender-responsive social services that promote women’s rights and reduce inequalities, including through gender-responsive budgeting.

 

4. STRENGTHEN WOMEN’S VOICE AND PARTICIPATION IN DECISION-MAKING, INCLUDING ON TAX AND FISCAL POLICIES AND OTHER SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC POLICIES THAT AFFECT WOMEN’S LIVES.

Women in unpaid care work and other fields and situations that hinder their economic autonomy and full exercise of their rights should be recognized and have the right to representation and participation in public life and decision-making. Spaces and resources must be allocated to support community-based women’s organizations and initiatives.

 

Governments have to work to realize their commitment to this agenda in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most comprehensive agenda to date, on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Platform for Action brought forward issues that impact women and girls and an understanding of women’s and girls’ rights and ushered in a new mindset that realizing the full potential of women and girls is a powerful and essential component of sustainable development. Among the issues identified to impact women and girls are poverty, violence against women, girls’ education, and equal participation of women in the labour market, especially in highly skilled jobs, STEM industries, and senior management. It is committed to promoting the balance of paid work and domestic responsibilities for women and men.

 

5. SYSTEM CHANGE: TOWARD JUST AND EQUITABLE SOCIETIES THAT VALUE CARE AND WORK FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET

Tax and gender justice require a radical rethinking of the value of care work and women in society. A transformative agenda for social and economic rebuilding that revalues care work and places people’s and the planet’s well-being at the center starts with a departure from the current capitalist and patriarchal system that feeds off the unpaid and underpaid labor of millions of women for the benefit of the elite few and corporate giants.

 

It is the sovereign right of people to reform their tax systems and institute policies away from the tax-related impositions of international financial institutions and toward people's needs and interests, and equality.

 

Unpaid care workers must be full participants in transforming the economy where care is valued as a public good and care workers can exercise their rights as workers and achieve economic autonomy and gender empowerment.


REFERENCES

​Addati, L., Cattaneo, U, Esquivel, V., Valarino, I. (2018) Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work (Report) International Labor Organization. 

https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_633135/lang--en/index.htm

 

1 JSAPMDD Women and Gender Framework and Perspectives Paper (2019, Working Paper of the APMDD Women and Gender Working Group. (unpublished). .

​​Progress of the world’s women 2015–2016: Transforming economies, realizing rights (2015) UN Women.
https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/Library/Publications/2015/POWW-2015-2016-en.pdf

 

Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2016 (2017) United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.  

https://www.unescap.org/publications/statistical-yearbook-asia-and-pacific-2016

 

Sciortino, R. (2021) Informal Workers in Southeast Asia: Resourceless, yet Resourceful https://www.wiego.org/blog/informal-workers-southeast-asia-resourceless-yet-resourceful


Revenue Statistics in Asia and the Pacific 2021: Emerging Challenges for the Asia-Pacific Region in the COVID-19 (2021) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)-Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (CTP) and the OECD Development Centre (DEV). 
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/ed374457-en.pdf?expires=1656148681&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=6CBB721E4CB1D31E16225E34B6E75816


SPARSE RESPONSES IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC 


COVID-19 has underscored unpaid care and domestic work as the burdens of care workers were multiplied with households keeping indoors because of the shift to online classes and work from home arrangements, and further extended in households when household members are infected with COVID 19 and, at the height of infections, hard pressed to access health care because of the overwhelming number of patients.  

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation of women doing unpaid care work. According to Amnesty International (AI), before the pandemic, women and girls were provided 12.5 billion hours of free care work every day globally. A sharp disparity is visible in South Asia. Referring to an Oxfam report, AI says “women in India spend 10 times more time on care work than men – both in urban and rural settings. In Bangladesh, women spend nearly thrice the time men do.  This arrangement of ‘all work and no pay’ while fuelling economic growth, has deprived women and girls of time and resources for education, skill development, or gainful employment. Unpaid and underpaid care work, a driver of inequality, has always left women with precarious jobs, insecure incomes, and no social safety – marginalized to the informal economy.” (READ Oxfam paper Time to Care). 

But government actions have not been responsive to the situation. The most common responses have only been food or food stamp distribution, cash transfers, and discounted utility bills, among others.

According to the 2021 ESCAP report,  “unpaid care and domestic work in Asia and the Pacific in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that of the various socioeconomic policy response measures instituted to date, less than 30 percent are care sensitive and only 12 percent are gender differentiated.”  


The ESCAP report further noted that of care-sensitive and gender differentiated responses,  there seems to be more social protection and cash transfers aimed at women but with time limitations.  There seems to be much less emphasis on the gender dimensions of care infrastructure and provision of care services. “The few gender-responsive and care-sensitive measures that have been put in place have been short-lived or are at risk of being rolled back or undone once the crisis eases,” the ESCAP noted.


DISCLAIMER:

This issue brief has been produced with co-funding from the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of APMDD and do not necessarily reflect  the view of the European Union.

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G7 Statement Header 2022

This year’s G7 Summit is again approaching in a world that has seen little progressive change but has instead fallen deeper into debt bondage, inequality and impoverishment under a neoliberal system led and maintained by the richest countries. Bearing the heaviest yoke of debt burdens are the billions of people in the global south who have experienced the greatest threat to their survival and human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. They remain in the grip of the multiple crises of health, economic recession, and intensifying climate change. These crises worsen under the weight of the accumulation and servicing of unsustainable and illegitimate debts, as well as fiscal consolidation under IMF loans. This has in turn led to worsening inequality, particularly among women, minorities, refugees and other marginalized groups.

 

The G7, with the support of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and private lenders, have persisted in pushing their debt “relief” measures – with dire consequences – and now promise “enhancements” in the face of failure. Many countries in the global south that entered the pandemic with existing high levels of debt are now deeper in debt than before as a consequence of both fiscal stimulus response measures to the pandemic and a low interest rate in a global context. This has fueled excessive lending and borrowing. As we warned, the inadequate, piecemeal, temporary and debt-creating responses of the G7/G20 solutions have missed the mark and only made conditions worse. They have shown, once more, their inadequacy in enforcing the participation of private lenders, to which global south countries have become heavily exposed. They have proven once again to be false solutions that are only eroding more livelihoods, deepening inequality, exacerbating the climate crisis, and threatening more lives, particularly in the wake of the current food and fuel price inflation shock.

 

Totally ignored is a major call from the global debt justice movement for the unconditional cancellation of public external debt payments by all lenders – bilateral, multilateral and private – for all countries in need for at least the next four years as an immediate step, and a clear program towards the unconditional cancellation of outstanding debt. No heed has been paid to the decades-long call by debt justice movements to establish a transparent and binding multilateral framework for debt crisis resolution that addresses unsustainable and illegitimate debt and provides systematic, timely and fair restructuring of sovereign debt, including debt cancellation, in a process convening all creditors.

 

Much of this debt is unsustainable and illegitimate. Loan conditionalities of austerity have contributed to the vulnerabilities of the global south to multiple crises that continue to plunge peoples into greater deprivation. Yet, payments for these debts continue to be claimed, without the benefit of any audit or review as to their questionable nature and terms. There also appears to be little serious concern for increasingly catastrophic climate change risks, and no regard for the scale and gravity of COVID-19’s adverse impacts on peoples’ health and lives, livelihoods and incomes, and the overall enjoyment of human rights. It is increasingly clear that the financial priorities of creditors supersede the human rights of people and nations across the global south.

 

We stress anew the urgency of canceling unsustainable and illegitimate debts to free up resources for immediate needs – for vital and universal healthcare, social protection, and other essential services and rights; to secure the safety and well-being of people and communities; to provide economic and structural assistance to affected, vulnerable and marginalized individuals, families and communities; to undertake urgent climate action, and build economies that are equitable, that uphold human rights, promote gender, race and ecological justice, and are climate resilient and compatible with the health of the planet.

 

Funds freed from debt cancellation should not be counted as part of fulfilling the obligation of global north and G7 countries to deliver climate finance for the global south. The refusal of global north leaders to meet their full obligations is costing the global south dearly in terms of urgently needed adaptation programs, coverage of climate-related loss and damage, ecological restoration, and the rapid and just transition out of fossil fuel energy systems. Meanwhile, more loans are being pushed forward as climate finance and there is a persistence in fossil fuel lending, plunging the global south deeper into debt, and exacerbating the climate crisis. The G7 and G20 are peddling more inadequate and/or false solutions such as debt-for-climate swaps which, at best, have brought meager relief, and at worst, legitimized dubious and harmful loans and brought in costly terms and conditionalities.

 

With stronger voices and an ever-growing reach, we reiterate our demands for debt justice:

● for immediate debt cancellation to enable people to deal with the multiple crises; to that end the G7 countries should enact national laws that make it mandatory for private creditors to participate in debt relief;

● for an end to the exploitation of peoples and destruction of the environment through lending;

● for the immediate delivery of new, additional and non-debt creating climate finance for adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage, far beyond the unmet $100 billion/year pledge, that adequately meets the needs of the global south;

● for stopping over-reliance on borrowing by supporting structural transformation across the globalsouth towards economic diversification and policy autonomy; and

● for systemic changes in financial and economic systems to stop the accumulation of unsustainable and illegitimate debt, to offer fair and comprehensive solutions to debt crises, and to build more equitable, just and post-carbon societies.

 

 

Join the Days of Action in the lead-up to and during the G7 Summit, from 24 - 28 June!

(More details to follow.)

 

Signatories

Regional/International Organizations/Networks

350.org

Turkey

Arab Watch Coalition

Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region

Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development

Asia Region

Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF)

France

European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad)

Europe

Fight Inequality Alliance

Global

Focus on the Global South

Thailand

Global Alliance for Tax Justice

France

Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)

Global

LDC Watch

Nepal

Migrant Forum in Asia

Philippines

Red Latinoamericana por Justicia Económica y Social (LATINDADD)

Peru

Southern African People's Solidarity Network (SAPSN)

SADC Region

Transnational Institute

Netherlands

Women's International Peace Centre

Uganda

 

Organizations

Diálogo 2000 - Jubileo Sur Argentina

Argentina

Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS)

Bangladesh

COAST Foundation

Bangladesh

Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh [EquityBD]

Bangladesh

Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE)

Bangladesh

Global Social Justice

Belgium

Association au Secours des Filles Mères (ASFM )

Cameroun

Women Engage for a Common Future

Colombia

Association Jeunes Agriculteurs (AJA)

Côte d'Ivoire

Cadre d'Appui à l'Innovation et à l'Entrepreneuriat Social et Solidaire (CAPI-ESS)

Côte d'Ivoire

Plateforme Française Dette et Développement

France

erlassjahr.de - Entwicklung braucht Entschuldung (Jubilee Germany)

Germany

Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales (Icefi)

Guatemala

Asociación Mujeres Emprendedoras de Alta Verapaz MEAV

Guatemala

Association For Promotion Sustainable Development

India

Centre for Budget and Policy Studies

India

Environics Trust

India

Fight Inequality Alliance, India

India

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

India

Nadi Ghati Morcha - India

India

National Hawker Federation

India

Programme on Women's Economic Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR)

India

Koalisi Rakyat Untuk Kak Atas Air (KRuHA)

Indonesia

Perkumpulan INISIATIF - Indonesia

Indonesia

University Student Chamber International (UNISC International)

Japan

Hope for Kenya Slum Adolescents Initiative

Kenya

Women's Rights and Empowerment Partnership in Africa (WREPA)

Kenya

Sustainable Rural Community Development Organisation

Malawi

Réseau CADTM Afrique

Mali

Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia

Mexico

All Nepal Peasants Federation

Nepal

Human Rights Alliance

Nepal

Humanitarian Accountability Monitoring Initiative (HAMI)

Nepal

INHURED International

Nepal

National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal

Nepal

Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)

Nepal

South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

Nepal

South Asia Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance (SATaFJA)

Nepal

Red Nicaragüense de Comercio Comunitario (RENICC)

Nicaragua

Debt Justice Norway

Norway

Crofter Foundation

Pakistan

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

Pakistan

Freedom from Debt Coalition

Philippines

WomanHealth Philippines

Philippines

Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)

Uganda

Bretton Woods Project

United Kingdom

Debt Justice UK

United Kingdom

Fresh Eyes

United Kingdom

Global Justice Now

United Kingdom

Jubilee Scotland

United Kingdom

Sisters of Charity Federation

United States

ActionAid Zambia

Zambia

 

Individuals

Lucilene Morandi

Brazil

Bodo Ellmers

Germany

Ausi Kibowa

Uganda

Corazon Valdez Fabros

Philippines

Messan Kounagbe

Bénin   

 

Translations: 

pdf2022 G7 Summit Statement (English)

pdf2022 G7 Summit Statement (Arabic)

pdf2022 G7 Summit Statement (French)

pdf2022 G7 Summit Statement (German)

pdf2022 G7 Summit Statement (Spanish)

 

   
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Final PolCartoon Pandora

Curbing illicit financial flows and tax avoidance is particularly urgent in Asia, where peoples continue to suffer from budget cuts in essential social services even as they experience multiple crises. Making the rich pay their share is also particularly challenging in the region, as business interests are closely tied up with the interests of those in the government.

If summits of the super-rich like the OECD and the WEF provide any indication, tax transparency and accountability efforts are facing an uphill battle ahead. But the long history of peoples' struggles for justice and democratic movements in Asia are testament to the rich resources of hope that lie in our midst.

Read more: The Pandora Papers Exposé: Hoarding wealth amidst global hunger and uncertainties - Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)