The achievements of generations of working people, celebrated on May Day, are under continuous and systematic
attack, as powerful multinational corporations and a handful of immensely wealthy people are writing the rules
of the global economy. Governments are in retreat, pandering to the ultra-rich and failing in their duty to ensure
decent work for all and an end to poverty. Nationalism and xenophobia are eroding solidarity, at a time when the
world is confronted with the biggest refugee crisis in 70 years and as migrant workers are deprived of the dignity
of equal treatment.
Tens of millions of women and men are trapped in modern slavery, and many more make up the hidden workforce
of global supply chains, denied the right to a union or to a living minimum wage and often trapped in dangerous and
degrading work. 40% of the world’s workforce is caught in the informal economy, with no rights and living handto-mouth.
One of the 11 areas that the World Bank's Doing Business (DB) report includes in ranking a country's business environment is paying taxes. The background study for DB 2017, Paying Taxes 2016 claims that its emphasis is "on efficient tax compliance and straightforward tax regimes".
Its ostensible aim is to aid developing countries in enhancing the administrative capacities of tax authorities as well as reducing informal economic activities and corruption, while promoting growth and investment. All well and good, until we get into the details.
The term “tax haven” typically conjures up images of exotic islands scattered around the globe. But new research suggests that if governments want to recover some of the revenue that disappears into such places, they don’t need to play an international shell game. Rather, they can focus on a handful of well-developed countries, including the U.K., the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Last week the UN Committee of Experts on International Tax (UNTC) met at the United Nations HQ in New York, a few metres from the Security Council meetings on Syria, followed by a special session on tax of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The undercurrent of the detailed technical discussions during the week has been a crisis of global tax governance. While, for example, the grand-sounding Addis Tax Initiative included a commitment to double the aid for tax issues to developing countries, very little has come to the UNTC. Funds are needed especially to facilitate the work of subcommittees, which are essential to work through technical details. Lacking travel funds, it is difficult for developing country members to attend, and the shortage of staff makes it hard to provide secretarial support. At several points during the meeting of the Committee there was frustration that an issue was being raised which had received no or insufficient attention in a subcommittee, and some work was not completed as a result.
What’s the most precious thing in the world which unfortunately we take for granted and realise it true value when it is impaired? Good health, of course.
That’s something many people must have reminded themselves as they celebrated World Health Day on 7 April.
Attaining good health and well-being may be a top priority goal, but achieving it is elusive for almost everyone, and next to impossible for the poor.
In the 1980s, the World Health Organization’s Director-General Halfdan Mahler steered through a declaration with the popular slogan ‘Health for All by the year 2000’.
We crossed into the 21st century without realising that noble goal. Although health has improved in most countries, due mainly to cleaner water and sanitation, but also due to better treatment, much remains to be done.
This year’s spring meetings will take place in a context of global uncertainty generated by the election of president Trump in the US, the formalisation of Brexit in Europe, and the rise of anti-trade movements across the developed world which once championed it. Making the case for trade as essential to global economic health is likely to be front and centre at the meetings. Meanwhile, civil society will continue to bring to light the persistent disparity between the World Bank and Fund’s rhetoric and the realities of their policies on the ground. Issues such as the negative impact of the IMF’s fiscal policies on women and girls and the Bank’s continued push for privatisation, including the leveraging of private sector investments, will feature prominently at the meetings.
China, Brazil, India and South Africa urge rich nations to honour their commitments made in Paris in 2015 to provide finance, capacity building and transfer of technology to developing countries to fight against climate change
Leaders gathered in Paris in December 2015. The historical Paris agreement, adopted by Parties at the Twenty-first meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, reaffirmed the commitment of industrialized nations to fulfil their obligations on finance, capacity building and technology transfer to help developing countries fight climate change challenges.
2017 could be the year that brings us a binding international treaty on the respect of human rights by transnational corporations and other business enterprises. It would, logically, take priority over other bilateral or multilateral trade agreements because it would set out the minimum conditions to be met.
On the morning of 4 April 2016, exactly one year ago, citizens around the world woke up to yet another shocking tax scandal. The leaking of 11.5 million confidential documents from Mossack Fonseca showed how the Panamanian law firm helped its clients through the use of offshore anonymous company and trust structures to launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxation.
In the weeks which followed, the Panama Papers put the issue of anonymous company ownership high on the international agenda. The European Commissioner responsible for taxation, Pierre Moscovici, said that the use of offshore companies in order to hide financial assets from tax authorities was “immoral, unethical and, in one word, unacceptable”. He said that the EU had “a duty” to act and put an end to the kind of tax dodging uncovered by the Panama Papers.
”It was so odd. I started reading up on the subject and became aware of the extent foreign investors were striking deals all over the country.
Pursuing this land grabbing story took him to a local journalist covering environmental issues at an early stage, who directed his attention to the Gambela National Park. Together they discovered that investors Saudi Star Agricultural Development had begun the development of a rice farm.
In order to make the sale to investors, the Ethiopian government displaced the local population.
The informal economy consists of economic activities and units that are not registered with the state and workers who do not receive social protection through their work, both wage-employed and self-employed. The reality of the informal economy in Africa cannot be denied. In fact, informal employment accounts for two-thirds (66%) of non-agricultural employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. But, variation within the region is significant. Informal employment accounts for a smaller share of non-agricultural employment in southern Africa (33% in South Africa and 44% in Namibia) relative to countries in other sub-regions (82% in Mali and 76% in Tanzania) (Vanek et al 2014). Informal employment is a greater source of non-agricultural employment for women (74%) than for men (61%) in the region overall. In seven cities in West Africa with data, informal employment comprises between 76% (Niamey) and 83% (Lomé) of employment. In all seven cities, proportionally more women than men are in informal employment (Herrera et al 2012).