Issue Brief: Public Services and the Urgency of Tax Justice for Mining-Affected Communities in the Philippines
Read the PDF version here.
Many communities in the Philippines suffer the disastrous effects of open-pit mining. At least 75% of mining corporations audited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2016 employed open-pit mining methods for extracting copper, gold, nickel, and chromite1. From 2017 to 2021, several open-pit mining exploration permits and all other pending applications were suspended as a result of the mine audit, which found widespread violations of environmental and social standards in a majority of existing open-pit sites2.
Open-pit mining is a type of mining operation that involves removing large amounts of earth to access deposits of valuable minerals or ore and remains to be the most widely employed method for mineral extraction in the Philippines. While the mining industry promises that mineral extraction is an important source of income and economic development for a community, open-pit mining has been proven to be associated with several negative impacts.
Communities witnessed how open-pit mining largely contributed to destruction of the local environment. To access the minerals or ore, large amounts of topsoil and underlying earth must be removed. This results in air, water, and noise pollution, as well as damage to habitats and ecosystems. This has a range of negative consequences for the local flora and fauna, and results in the loss of essential resources like timber, arable land, and clean water. This was clearly demonstrated by the1996 Marcopper disaster in Marinduque which annihilated the biosphere of the Boac River and the flooding of twenty villages due to polluted water from mine tailings contaminating the river basin3. In Manicani, the waste produced by the Hinatuan Mining Corporation's nickel mine led to environmental degradation via polluted water due to excessive soil extraction and rain run-off4.
In addition to environmental impacts, open-pit mining also has social and economic impacts on the local community, such as public health. The noise, dust, and other forms of pollution triggered by mining operations have been linked to respiratory and other illnesses as well as water-borne diseases from polluted water. In Sta. Cruz, Zambales where four major nickel mining companies were suspended in 2014 for violations of environmental regulations5, there were noted instances of acute upper respiratory infections, skin rashes, and several other diseases among mining-affected communities6. As such, mining-affected communities have specific medical and other health needs that arise because of their direct and indirect exposure to mining operations’ hazards and other impacts. This requires access to services that address, among others, the specific health impacts of pollutants created by the mining operations.
Due to the location-specific nature of the extractive industry, mining operations strike deep into remote areas where mineral and other natural resources are most rich and where communities’ livelihoods and cultures are defined by their close affinity to the natural environment. These communities, however, have historically been among the most marginalized from the centers of political power and economic decision-making, and have had to survive with the least access to public services and other support systems, including basic medical care and preventative health services, such as vaccinations and screenings. Region IVB (MIMAROPA), home to some of the largest mining operations such as the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation in Palawan and previously Marcopper in Marinduque, is the region with one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios (1.8/10,000) and hospital bed-to-patient ratios (1/10,000) in the country. These figures fall drastically below the 10/10,000 ratio prescribed by the World Health Organization7. In addition, the health spending of provinces affected by mining decreased from 21.43% of their total operating expenses in 2005 to only 16.1% in 2010 despite the generally upward trend of mining output in this period8.
As it stands, mining does little to improve the social and economic health of these communities. Indeed, mineral-rich communities have historically been deprived of access to public services such as electrification, schools, and hospitals. This lack of access is compounded and further compromised by the impact of mining on the land and water resources of these communities through mining pollution, affecting agricultural livelihoods. In Didipio where mining operations of Oceana Gold Inc. (OGI) take place, households are estimated to only utilize 0.4% of the water resources used by corporations in the Didipio Mine9.
Public Services Essential to Communities’ Health and Resilience
To mitigate the effects of pollution caused by open-pit mining, the government must urgently provide public services such as clean drinking water, health care, and education to mining-affected communities.
Much of this damage co-occurs with the continuation of mining operations, hence communities’ call to halt mining activities in severely impacted areas. The Writ of Kalikasan10 is an important legal tool in this regard, as used successfully by the Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz Zamboanga against five mining corporations in 2016. The issuance of the Writ urged the court to suspend mining operations in the area to halt immediate damage to the water sources11.
Likewise, if the mining operations result in air or water pollution, it is essential to prioritize ecological restoration to help protect the health and well-being of the community. As it stands, there is a lack of sufficient recognition of ecological destruction by government or the culpability of this destruction by large mining corporations. Mining companies must account for the costs of community rehabilitation and ecological restoration.
Not only do public services mitigate immediate impacts, they also build or restore communities’ resilience, including abilities to sustain livelihoods in the long run. Providing access to education and jobs, as well as subsidies for local businesses, helps to ensure that members of the community are equipped to participate in the local economy and prioritize ecological restoration.
However, public education and job trainings mean little if the land becomes unusable for economic development. This was indeed the case in Tampakan, South Cotabato, where mining waste from tailing ponds threatened the fecundity of local farmlands and the viability of the tuna industry in General Santos12. Philippine provinces hosting large-scale mining operations are among those with the highest poverty incidence with at least 30% of their population living below the poverty line, with the exception of provinces that have diversified economic activities beyond mining13. Hence, it is necessary to prioritize the preservation of land and water resources such as agriculture and fisheries that are independent of mining activities.
Gender-responsive public services must also be in place for women in mining-affected communities. Access to reproductive health care and family planning services, as well as support for maternal and child health are often out of reach in rural mining areas. Women in communities affected by mining tend to carry the responsibility of providing food for their families and therefore need access to food sources, which can be severely compromised by the impacts of open-pit mining on agricultural lands. Chemicals used in the mining process leeches into the soil and contaminate local crops, making them unsafe for food consumption. Similarly, water pollution increases the difficulty for women to access clean water for irrigation, cooking, and drinking, and impacts the availability of local fruits, vegetables, and other food sources.
Increased vulnerabilities to natural disasters and Irreversible Effects of Mining
Mining-affected communities are also more vulnerable to natural disasters and require specific disaster risk management services. Open-pit mining creates risks of landslides, flash flooding, and other natural disasters that occur with heavy rains or earthquakes because forests absorb and retain a lot of water and open-pit mining destroys an environment’s ability to absorb water through the destruction of the forest and compromising soil integrity. These vulnerabilities are first and foremost caused by the open-pit method itself. Hence, many communities advocate for the reduction or cessation of these operations to alleviate these vulnerabilities.
However, restoration may even be more challenging, if not impossible, for areas with long-term exposure to open-pit mining or other irreversible effects of mining. In a number of high-profile cases, mining results in the complete destruction of the local environment, making it difficult or impossible to restore the area to its previous natural state. In other cases, the damage may be more limited, but can still be significant, requiring large-scale restoration efforts. The restored environment may also be vulnerable to future damage from other human activities, such as logging or development. Hence, communities in these areas demand rehabilitation and ecological restoration as urgent measures that governments must compel mining corporations to undertake.
Mitigating Mining’s Social Impacts and Economic Deficits Through Tax Justice
There is a need to systematically address mining’s social and environmental impacts through stricter regulation of the industry and comprehensive provision of public services. Mining companies should be made to pay for rehabilitation and compensation for social and ecological damages. Mining profits should be taxed fairly and justly to raise the countries’ domestic revenues.
All in all, the scale of the extractive industry’s environmental impacts and communities’ heightened vulnerability to poverty, food insecurity, and ecological risk underscore the critical importance of tax justice in the extractives sector. In the Philippines, the miniscule contribution of the extractives sector to the economy and employment sharply contrasts with the profits enjoyed by corporations. These issues to an environment where financial secrecy and regulatory loopholes in the taxation system enable large-scale tax avoidance.
Instead of plugging the leaks and addressing tax abuses by corporations, the Philippine government itself allows for large-scale revenue erosion in the sector through its provision of tax incentives in mining permits. Fiscal devolution where several layers of taxation operate from the local to the national level has also provided corporations the leeway to skirt tax obligations, and engendered legal challenges by local governments over taxing rights and revenue management.
Meanwhile, resources available for public services and addressing impacts of mining for affected communities are severely limited. Municipalities affected by mining were found to utilize and depend on tax revenues from mining to fund as much as 43% of their annual budgets14. As such, mining corporations’ repeated attempts to dodge taxation through challenging tax claims of local governments in court as in Nueva Vizcaya15 and South Cotabato16 gravely impede the provision of public services in communities most directly affected by extractives activities. To address the multiple crises faced by mining-affected communities, it is imperative that corporations are sanctioned to pay for the impacts and damages caused by mining and their just share of taxes to fund the provision of public services.
At the end of the day, the extractive industry impacts mining-affected communities’ ability to enjoy their right to access to quality public services many times over: firstly, by exposing communities to health hazards and other risks; secondly, by negatively impacting livelihoods and access to water and other natural resources which in turn increases their social and economic vulnerabilities and abilities to access affordable social services; and thirdly, because the foregone revenues lost to the extractive industry’s profit shifting and the tax incentives they enjoy, the public financing of social services for the entire country is also severely compromised.
Moving forward, addressing deficits in public services due to extractives activities requires transformative and multi-level policy reforms on the local, national, and global levels. The national government must proactively strengthen tax enforcement to make corporations pay their just share and ensure that mining tax revenue-sharing is made fairer, reducing the burden on local governments to generate revenues. There must also be efforts towards improving financial transparency in extractives on the local level, involving communities in reporting and analysis, on the national level through a stronger and public beneficial ownership registry, and on the global level through ensuring that developing countries like the Philippines are able to access automatic exchange of information (AEOI) and be able to work with other countries affected by extractives activities to curb transfer-pricing and other illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the sector through a democratically negotiated tax convention at the United Nations.
1 Mining Industry Coordinating Council, “Review of Philippine Large-Scale Metallic Mines: Going Beyond Compliance Towards Sustainability” MICC Policy Note, Vol. 1 No. 1, April 2022, https://www.dole.gov.ph/php_assets/uploads/2022/06/MICC-Mining-Policy-Note-Online-Version.pdf
2 Keith Schneider, “Philippines bans new open-pit metal mines,” Mongabay, April 28, 2017, https://news.mongabay.com/2017/04/philippines-bans-new-open-pit-metal-mines/
3 Gwen de la Cruz, “Look Back: The 1996 Marcopper Mining Disaster,” Rappler, March 24, 2017, sec. MovePH, https://www.rappler.com/moveph/165051-look-back-1996-marcopper-mining-disaster/.
4 PNA, “Hinatuan Mining Told to Stop Transporting Nickel Ore Stockpile,” SUNSTAR, July 21, 2016, https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/87093/hinatuan-mining-told-to-stop-transporting-nickel-ore-stockpile.
5 “4 mining firms suspended over ‘unsystematic’ methods”. Rappler. July 24, 2014. https://www.rappler.com/business/industries/64247-4-mining-firms-suspended-unsystematic-methods/
6 Anniebeth N. Farin, “The Health Problems of the Residents in the Mining-Affected Areas in Santa Cruz, Zambales, Philipp by Iaset Journals,” International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 7, no. 6 (November 2018): 23–36.
7 UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, “Estimating Local Healthcare Capacity to Deal with COVID-19 Case Surge: Analysis and Recommendations,” University of the Philippines, April 20,2020, https://up.edu.ph/estimating-local-healthcare-capacity-to-deal-with-covid-19-case-surge-analysis-and-recommendations/
8 Magno, Cielo (2016) “Extractive industries and the financing of child-inclusive social development in the Philippines: Trends and policy frameworks,” UNRISD Working Paper, No. 2016-2, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva, https://www.econstor.eu/handle/10419/148754
9 Magno, Cielo and John Christopher Lawrence Morillo, “Case studies on the water use of large scale mining in the Philippines,” UPSE Discussion Paper No. 2019-03 https://econ.upd.edu.ph/dp/index.php/dp/article/view/1522
10 The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy that seeks to protect citizens and communities against acts that damage the environment, as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution in recognition of the “right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature” (Article II, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution)
11 Sunnex, “SC Issues Writ of Kalikasan vs 5 Mining Firms,” SUNSTAR, September 29, 2016, https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/81424/sc-issues-writ-of-kalikasan-vs-5-mining-firms.
12 Justice and Peace Desk, Social Action Center, Diocese of Marbel, “Mining in the Municipality of Tampakan: Risks and Alternatives,” https://www.slideshare.net/no2mininginpalawan/mining-in-the-municipality-of-tampakanrisks-and-alternatives.
13 Magno, Cielo (2016) “Extractive industries and the financing of child-inclusive social development in the Philippines: Trends and policy frameworks,” UNRISD Working Paper, No. 2016-2, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva, https://www.econstor.eu/handle/10419/148754
15 John Victor D. Ordonez, “Tax court denies OceanaGold’s appeal to review liabilities,” BusinessWorld, June 7, 2022, https://www.bworldonline.com/corporate/2022/06/07/453185/tax-court-denies-oceanagolds-appeal-to-review-liabilities/
16 Bong S. Sarmiento, “Tampakan mine operator raps LGU over tax demand”, INQUIRER.Net, September 15, 2022, https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1664417/tampakan-mine-operator-raps-lgu-over-tax-demandi
Civil society network asserts call for a UN Tax Convention, lambasts G20 for sticking to “fundamentally undemocratic Tax Deal of the Rich”
Civil society network asserts call for a UN Tax Convention, lambasts G20 for sticking to “fundamentally undemocratic Tax Deal of the Rich”
“The G20 Summit in Bali is blocking any progress towards the negotiation of a UN Tax Convention that would address the issue of corporate tax abuses and illicit financial flows”, pronounced Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, after the G20 released its Outcome Document November 16.
“The G20 continues to refuse to listen to civil society movements that are demanding global norms and standards on tax cooperation that respects all countries' sovereignty, strengthen countries' capacities to raise revenues to deliver public services, climate action, sustainable development and human rights commitments, and pave the way for an inclusive UN Tax Body,” Nacpil continued. “It is holding on to the fundamentally undemocratic Tax Deal of the Rich.”
The G20 has been pushing for the OECD Inclusive Framework on BEPS, a so-called "Two-Pillar Solution" which has been heavily criticized as a "Tax Deal of the Rich."
On November 15, the first day of the G20 Summit, APMDD delivered a strong message to G20 leaders, calling on them to refrain from blocking any progress towards the negotiation of a UN Tax Convention that would effectively address corporate tax abuses and establish norms and standards on tax cooperation that respects all countries' taxing rights via actions in front of their embassies in Metro Manila as the G20 Summit opened in Bali, Indonesia, 15 November 2022.
Open letters were delivered and discussed with embassy representatives. The first stop was the Embassy of Indonesia which holds the Presidency of the G20 until December 2022, followed by the Embassy of Brazil and finally the Consular Office of the Embassy of India. See the Open Letter to the government of Indonesia here.
APMDD called attention to the arrogation of international tax system rulemaking by the world’s largest economies through the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit-Shifting (BEPS) framework, an effort which APMDD denounces as fundamentally undemocratic, illegitimate, and biased towards the interests of countries, corporations, and wealthy individuals already benefiting from status quo tax rules.
Instead of the G20-G7-OECD Tax Deal, the Asia-wide civil society network calls for the immediate adoption of a UN Tax Convention and an intergovernmental tax mechanism under UN auspices, proposals which have been advanced again most recently by finance ministers in Africa, as well as by the G77 and China. Reiterating the call of African finance ministers, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that a “legitimate global system of laws” that is “consistent with the principles set out in the United Nations Charter” is needed to stop illicit financial flows (IFFs) and end tax abuses, especially in developing countries.
APMDD coordinator Lidy Nacpil said that “a UN Tax Convention is needed because multinational corporations exploit the different national tax systems on a global scale, and we need global governance in order to reign in and address the tax abuse of multinational corporations.”
While the OECD and G20 present their BEPS framework as an inclusive project, APMDD has long pointed out that the project’s two pillars will deprive Global South countries of their ability to mobilize domestic resources for their sustainable development while benefiting Global North countries and corporations. According to APMDD, the BEPS framework amounts to a Tax Deal of the Rich.
Pillar One hands the right of taxation on the excess and non-routine profits of large multinational corporations (MNCs) to countries where these corporations are headquartered, rather than where their assets are located. This will rob developing countries of their just share of tax revenue, while solely benefitting the Global North countries where MNCs are based. Furthermore, this will exacerbate IFFs by MNCs that can simply declare a larger share of their profits as non-routine.
Pillar Two of the framework aims to advance a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15%, a drop from the 25% average corporate tax rate of developing countries. This represents a massive cut in tax revenue for Global South countries at a time when funds are much needed to finance critical public services, people's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to address the risks, vulnerabilities, damage and losses brought about by the climate crisis. Furthermore, this will likely precipitate a race to the bottom amongst developing countries as pressure mounts for them to cut taxes in line with the BEPS framework.
The OECD/G20 BEPS framework is largely a project of the world’s largest economies and is unrepresentative of the international tax reform demands of developing countries and peoples’ movements around the world. A UN Tax Convention, negotiated with universal and equal participation of all UN member states and with civil society participation can pave the way forward towards global tax rules that will enable all countries, but especially those in the Global South to strengthen domestic resource mobilization and other capacities to meet sustainable development goals, human rights obligations, and to fast track peoples’ recovery. The so-called "Two-Pillar Solution" peddled by the BEPS framework will not fix the fundamental flaws of the current international tax system and will only serve to exacerbate inequalities within and between countries.
According to Vidya Dinker, head of the Indian Social Forum and chair of APMDD’s Women and Gender Working Group, “the G20 should act on demands to reform the international tax architecture by supporting calls to start negotiations for a United Nations Tax Convention that would include the establishment of the UN Tax Body, with a voice and mandate from all countries. A new tax system is very much needed.” Dinker, who added that “the G20 must not block the process of adopting a UN Tax Convention,” is an activist leader in India who has helped steer civil society efforts to advocate a comprehensive tax justice agenda in political dialogues with G20.
APMDD’s public actions at the Embassy of Indonesia, the Embassy of Brazil, and the consular office of the Embassy of India were in solidarity with efforts by other peoples’ movements and civil society networks in Asia and beyond towards building up the call for the immediate adoption of a UN Tax Convention, and sending a strong message to G20 countries as they meet in Bali under the Presidency of Indonesia.
In 2023 India takes over G20 Presidency and in 2024, Brazil will be at G20's helm. Several G20 countries have historically been known to block efforts of developing countries to push for reforms in the international tax architecture that would make it more responsive to developing countries' interests and more effective in curbing corporate tax abuses and illicit financial flows.
21-25 Nov: Join the Global Days of Action for Tax Justice in the Extractives 2022
The Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) and its regional networks Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA), Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA), and Red de Justicia Fiscal de América Latina y Caribe (RJFALC) will host the Global Days of Action for Tax Justice in the Extractive Industry from 21 to 25 November, 2022. The 4th edition of the campaign builds on the demands that the GATJ members have been pushing for since 2019, and calls more specifically for excess profits taxes on oil, mining and gas companies.
The continuing impacts of the global pandemic and the climate crisis have spawned a glaring gap between a tiny set of winners and the majority of the world’s population. In 2022, net profits of the 40 largest mining corporations grew by 127% from the previous year, surpassing their pre-pandemic revenues by more than double. However, few people benefited from the boom: research shows that there was a 130% rise in dividend payments and rewards for top executives, whereas many lost their homes, incomes and livelihoods.
Reports by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) expose that mining corporations systematically shift profits and wealth through corporate manoeuvring and shell companies registered in low-tax jurisdictions. On top of these illicit financial flows, they reveal the extent of regulatory capture by mining interests, involving patronage and corruption in processes of securing mining licences.
Social movements, particularly in climate, labour and gender justice, have been raising proposals for the extractive sector to operate responsibly with communities and the environment. Building connections with these demands, this campaign brings the perspectives of tax justice and the broader economic justice movement, calling for a rights-based economy that puts people and the planet at the centre of discussions and decision-making.
“The global crises make closing tax loopholes and raising more public revenues more urgent and imperative. However, the extractive sector continues to be given free rein to extract resources and profits with neither limits nor regard for social and economic costs or for irreversible environmental impacts,” said Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator of GATJ. “In addition to the profit shifting and illicit financial flows rampant in this sector, facilitated by the broken global tax governance and lack of regulatory and transparency mechanisms, the extra profits being generated by those benefiting from the crises remains untaxed. It is high time to take urgent and rigorous measures in the extractives sector to raise more revenue: stopping the perverse flow of resources from low-income to rich-OECD countries; scrapping tax giveaways, curbing loopholes and tax abuse, as well as immediately introducing tax on extra profits. An inclusive and equitable recovery will only be possible through tax justice.”
Global tax justice calls
The global tax justice movement calls on governments and multilateral institutions to:
Stop illicit financial flows and tax abuses in the extractives sector;
Tax the superprofits of extractives corporations by instituting windfall profit taxes;
Curb tax incentives granted to the extractives industry;
Make extractives companies pay their share in taxes and immediate costs of rehabilitation and rebuilding;
Use taxes for peoples' needs, especially for the needs of communities affected by social and environmental damage; and
Protect and uphold the rights of workers and women affected by mining, including their rights to defend their communities.
18 NOV | 11 am Pretoria
Online event: Resource Backed Loans and Collateralization of Mineral Resources
Organisers: Afrodad and Tax Justice Network Africa
The webinar seeks to pinpoint Africa’s over reliance on mineral resources as the primary commodity export. This overdependence on mineral resources could be a result of IMF’s fiscal consolidation country advice on debt management and how resource-rich countries that are in debt distress are forced to resort to RBLs as a way of financing their debt. Through this online discussion, we seek to analyse whether resource backed loans and collateralisation of mineral resources are a sustainable financing option for African countries and showcase how the current multilateral and international financial system contributes to a vicious cycle of dependence on RBLs.
21 NOV | 2 pm Central European time
Launch event: Tax extractives excess profits NOW!
Organisers: Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia, Tax Justice Network Africa, Red de Justicia Fiscal de América Latina y el Caribe
The Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) and its regional networks kick off the Global Days of Action for Tax Justice in the Extractive Industry 2022 with an online round table, in which panellists from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America will discuss the main issues each region has been facing with the extractives, as well as what could be achieved through tax justice and, more specifically, excess profits taxes in the sector.
Labor Leaders Gather to Push for Wealth Tax and Progressive Tax Reforms
In an unprecedented move, more than 160 Philippine trade union leaders and tax justice activists from different parts of the country gathered in a forum to discuss wealth tax as a response to the worsening inequality in the country.
Held on November 5, 2022 the forum had for its theme “Buwisan ang Bilyonaryo, Hindi ang Obrero!” (Tax the Billionaires, Not the Workers!) and was jointly organized by the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).
Speakers led by Lidy Nacpil of APMDD and Ka Leody de Guzman of BMP discussed the necessity of pushing for a wealth tax to fund peoples’ recovery amidst the economic, health and climate crises facing the people.
While the living and working conditions have worsened for the majority of Filipino citizens, especially the working class, the top 50 wealthiest individuals in the country have seen an almost 30% combined increase in their wealth. Combined with the drastic increase in the country’s poverty incidence, this represents an upward transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top. This has been facilitated by, among other things, the Philippine government’s regressive taxation policies, characterized by the imposition of excise taxes and value-added taxation (VAT) on a whole range of goods and services, including basic commodities.
More than 100 participants, including 34 trade union leaders and tax justice activists attended the assembly in Quezon City, even as 70 participants from BMP chapters in Negros, Cebu, Ormoc, and Bicol joined remotely.
Rey Abella of APMDD said consumer-related taxes such as VAT depletes the income of ordinary people, especially workers living on minimum wage. He said that VAT is regressive because it hits the poor more as taxes on consumer goods cut a bigger share of their income compared to the rich, especially billionaires.
BMP chairperson Leody De Guzman said the wealth of the billionaires and the capitalist class that came from the exploitation of workers are illicit, thus, they must be held accountable by taxing them through a wealth tax.
He said that the burden of raising revenues for government spending should not be passed on to the poor and working class who are already heavily burdened by neoliberal policies such as privatization of basic social services.
APMDD coordinator Lidy Nacpil said that “aside from benefiting from regressive taxation, the super-rich are able to evade paying taxes through illicit financial flows (IFFs), particularly by exploiting tax havens in other countries.”
Labor lawyer and BMP president Luke Espiritu denounced the prevailing exploitative practice of capitalists and businessmen giving only minimum wages to workers. He said government-mandated minimum wages should only serve as a reference point, or “floor price” or a “limit”. Instead, capitalists should use the minimum wage as a basis for paying workers a liveable wage.
Manjette Lopez, president of the multi-sectoral alliance Sanlakas said that there is an urgent need to transform organized masses in poor communities as active partners in the progressive transformation of political, social, and economic life, and not just mere recipients of aid or ayuda.
She warned of the unstable global situation characterized by stagflation where prices of commodities continue to rise even as economic growth is slowly grinding to a halt.
Emma Garcia of BMP Kababaihan (BMP Women) said that women workers face harsh working environments and only receive the minimum wage, yet a major part of their income goes to paying taxes on household consumer goods. She noted the significance and timeliness of the wealth tax forum as workers fight for a more progressive taxing system.
The labor leaders saw the need to cascade the concepts learned during the forum to local unions and localities to build a grassroots initiative for the fight for wealth tax.
De Guzman reiterated during the open forum that the wealth tax is not the sole advocacy and campaign that will be carried out by BMP, but it is one of the most important issues they have to bear in order to eliminate inequality and other labor-related issues workers are facing. He said dismantling the neoliberal economic paradigm and pro-elitist, pro-capitalist system is still one of the most important goals the proletariats must achieve.
PRESS RELEASE: CSOs support the G77 and China proposal on UN intergovernmental tax body and the Africa Group’s on a UN Tax Convention
CSOs support the G77 and China proposal on UN intergovernmental tax body and the Africa Group’s on a UN Tax Convention
This week, the Group of 77 (G77) and China and the Africa Group at the UN have once again tabled resolution drafts, which would bring reform of international tax rules to its rightful institution and enshrine international cooperation in tax matters on the basis of equality and fairness. The Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) joins other members of the Civil Society Financing for Development (CS FfD) Group in its support for the draft resolutions.
On this occasion, to reinforce its support, GATJ launched a statement endorsing the call of the African Ministers of Finance for a UN Tax Convention. An initiative of the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA), in collaboration with the Red de Justicia Fiscal de América Latina y el Caribe (RJFALC) and Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA) – members of GATJ – the statement was signed by 228 civil society organisations worldwide. “The statement reflects the wide support the call for a UN-based and Member States-led intergovernmental process has, as the only inclusive and democratic alternative to reform international tax rules. We are ready to mobilise and raise the pressure on the UN Member States to overcome the blockage of OECD countries and work collaboratively to pass these resolutions”, said Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator of GATJ.
In support of the resolutions, Luis Moreno, member of RJFALC and Chair of the GATJ’s Coordination Committee said:
“OECD countries have been pursuing a two-pronged approach regarding reform of international tax rules. They have been trying to impose binding reforms that serve mainly their interest at the cost of developing countries, as well as to lock them into agreements that will perpetuate the denial of their international taxing rights. In their first approach, the OECD-led process is failing to reach any conclusion. However, they have so far succeeded in their second approach: blocking the start of an intergovernmental process at the UN. The resolution drafts of the G77 and China and the Africa Group at the UN are first steps to end this blockage. We call on all developing countries, and in particular those in Latin America and the Caribbean, to firmly support these resolutions.”
Alvin Mosioma, Executive Director of TJNA, also reiterated:
“Illicit financial flows and other forms of tax abuse by multinational corporations and wealthy individuals are draining an increasing amount of resources much needed for recovery and development. Developing countries, where the need for resources is greater, are deprived of them. This outflow of resources is multiple times higher than inflows in the form of official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI).”
“Unless the failures of the international tax system are urgently addressed, developing countries will continue to lose billions of dollars due to illicit financial flows and other forms of tax abuse. This situation has to be brought to an end. The G77 and China and the Africa Group at the UN are leading the way. Developing countries should unite to stop the blockers from thwarting a member state led process.”
Jeannie Manipon, member of the Coordination Committee of TAFJA and GATJ said:
“Besides usurping the role of reforming international tax rules, the G7 has not moved an inch in curbing illicit financial flows (IFF) and reducing tax abuses. There is thus no improvement to expect if tax rule making is left with the G20. Many OECD countries have a big share of the responsibility in tax abuses of all forms because they are the destination of IFF and host of enabler institutions. That is why they are not taking measures to close down tax havens and to sanction enablers of tax dodging and IFF. On the other they are blocking the reform of the global tax system through an inclusive intergovernmental process at the UN to address these challenges.”
“The resolution drafts forwarded by the G77 and the Africa Group at the UN should be endorsed and translated into action urgently. The OECD countries must stop blocking a UN-based inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process to democratise global tax governance in which all countries participate on an equal footing.”
“We call on all G77 countries to withstand the bullying and divide and rule tactics of OECD countries and actively collaborate in their fight for a Member States-led elaboration of a UN Tax Convention, for an improved and equitable international tax cooperation.”
NOTES TO THE EDITORS
- The G77 and China resolution published this week: https://undocs.org/A/C.
- Africa Group resolution published this week: https://undocs.org/A/C.
- Statement by TJNA, RJFALC, TAFJA and GATJ in support of the call by African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development for a UN Tax Convention: https://
globaltaxjustice.org/ libraries/statement-support- for-the-call-by-african- ministers-of-finance-for-a-un- tax-convention/
- The G77 and China and its members have been calling for a UN intergovernmental tax body for over two decades. This database developed by the CS FfD Group tracks statements by governments supporting this call: https://csoforffd.org/
2021/10/27/database- governments-supporting-an- intergovernmental-un-tax-body- and-or-un-tax-convention/
- Building on the call by G77 and China, in 2019 a call to develop a UN Tax Convention was first put forward by the Africa Group at the United Nations. The following year, it was included in a ‘Menu of Options’ produced as part of a UN process to consider how the international community could respond to the COVID-19 crisis. In February 2021, the FACTI Panel – which had been set up by the President of the UN General Assembly (at the time Nigeria) and the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (at the time Norway) – also included the proposal for a UN Tax Convention as a key recommendation in its final report. In May 2022, the African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development reiterated the call at their 54th session in Dakar.
- The Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) and the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) launched in March 2022 a civil society proposal for a UN Tax Convention, which responds to these calls and a number of other concerns that have been raised regarding the existing international tax system: https://
globaltaxjustice.org/news/ ground-breaking-civil-society- proposal-for-a-un-convention- on-tax-is-published/