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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 hand￾to-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.

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.

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.

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.


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