The Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA) and the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) concluded this Friday (22/09) the Asia Days of Action for Tax Justice 2023 with a strong call for a United Nations (UN) Convention on Tax, during an online forum co-organised with Women for Tax Justice and the Tax Justice Network (TJN). The event took place in a timely moment, when civil society organisations and some authorities also reiterated this call at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA78), in New York.
“This is a very important moment to seize the historical opportunity to fight for a global tax system that is responsive to the rights and needs of all people and the planet”, said Jeannie Manipon, Development Finance program manager at APMDD and member of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ)’s coordination committee. “Civil society organisations across the globe must continue our work to push for a UN Tax Convention and inclusive and democratic UN Tax Body, where developed and developing countries will have equal position [in the tax negotiations],” added Ah Maftuchan, executive director of Prakarsa and member of GATJ’s coordination committee.
The online forum also had the participation of Farooq Tariq (Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee), Hoang Phuong Thao (ActionAid Vietnam), Antonio Salvador (Third World Network), Dereje Alemayehu (GATJ), and Florencia Lorenzo & Luke Holland (TJN).
As countries are losing 480 billion dollars in tax a year to global tax abuse, lower income countries continue to be hit harder: their tax losses are equivalent to half of their public health budgets, according to TJN’s The State of Tax Justice 2023. Pakistan and Vietnam are a clear example of this. “The tax to be paid by three major technology companies in a quarter of 2022 is sufficient to pay the full month salary for 71 thousands of teachers in Vietnam,” shared Hoang Phuong. “The government should reform the tax system to make it more equitable and efficient. It could reduce the reliance on indirect taxes, which disproportionately burden those living in poverty,” said Tariq.
Developing countries have long been pushing to take the role to reform international tax architecture from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to the UN, as the UN is the only forum where all countries could participate on equal footing, and could have a truly inclusive, democratic and transparent discussion and decision making on tax. “The tax process at the UN is the legitimate one because the UN has universal membership, it is a transparent process,” underlined Alemayehu. “It is about the principles to govern international tax: the tax policy of a country should not undermine the revenue of another.”
Check out some highlights of the online forum:
🧶Here are some highlights: pic.twitter.com/J2Izl3Qz5t
— Global Alliance for Tax Justice (@GA4TJ) September 22, 2023
Asia Days of Action for Tax Justice 2023
The campaign took place from 18 to 22 September and, besides the online forum, mobilised several actions across Asia. Here are some highlights:
TAFJA and APMDD’s members and partners took the streets of Kathmandu, in Nepal, in a public mobilisation for a UN Tax Convention.
— APMDD (@AsianPeoplesMvt) September 20, 2023
Open letter to the Senate of the Philippines
In Manila, civil society groups sent an open letter to the Senate of the Philippines calling for a UN Tax Convention. It was signed by over 40 grassroots movements.
FIX THE BROKEN GLOBAL TAX SYSTEM! Civil society groups hand over an open letter on a #UNTaxConvention, signed by over 40 grassroots organizations across Asia, to the @senatePH. @sanlakas_ph @GA4TJ pic.twitter.com/wtys73U11q
— Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (@WeAreTAFJA) September 20, 2023
Statement on the UN Secretary General’s tax report
TAFJA released a statement on the UN Secretary General’s tax report on international tax cooperation, which was published in August 2023, ahead of the UNGA. It outlines the possible options for strengthening international tax cooperation, including a UN Framework Convention on Tax. Read the statement