As several studies are frequently being published by experts and organisations in the tax justice movement, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) will start gathering recommendations of valuable resources on a monthly basis. In May 2023, we would like to highlight three materials: an analysis of the public debt profile in the Global South; a report on the reforms needed in Zambia’s tax system to ensure the taxation of the mining industry contributes to the energy transition; and a briefing reflecting on how reparations could be a pathway to decolonisation.
Check out the key findings and proposals in these studies GATJ highly recommends:
Publishers: Latindadd and Afrodad
Authors: Yanne Horas, Anahí Wiedenbrüg and Maia Colodenco
The report analyses the current scenario of intensifying sovereign debt vulnerabilities along with the multiple risks and challenges faced by countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. “Increasing high debt levels in southern countries are a burden that is primarily paid at the expenses of the people that are more exposed to economic, social and climate vulnerabilities. The multiple crises are leading to non-concessional loans, public spending cuts and more extractivism, in an unequal recovery,” explain the authors.
The experts point out how the Covid-19 pandemic led to developing economies to also face consequences spilled over from rich countries. That is because the advanced economies’ central banks raised interest rates to fight pandemic-related inflation in their countries, causing the strengthening of the US dollar and devaluing developing countries’ currencies. It shrank the fiscal space for middle-income countries to react to the negative effects of the pandemic, being able to deploy a third of what advanced economies proportionally have to counter the crisis.
“The rising refinancing costs are not only offsetting many States’ balances of payments in the short term. More severely, they are drastically reducing State capacity to provide basic services and invest in development. Climbing funding costs also endanger much needed investments in infrastructure, health systems and climate resilience, crowding out public budgets,” says the report.
In low-income countries (LICs), the capacity to issue debt under local law and in domestic currency is gravely curtailed. G20 countries offered assistance to LICs facing liquidity and solvency issues, but the initiatives were considered very limited and ineffective. Also, no initiative was developed to support middle-income countries, like Mexico and Argentina.
The main program, the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), offered temporary debt relief to 73 countries. In total, 48 countries participated in the 20-month duration program that provided “valuable breathing space”, as stated by the authors, but failed to address structural issues.
“While coordinated debt initiatives that focus on the short-term deferral of acute debt problems in the world’s poorest countries can be successfully implemented, efforts to address systemic problems fail. Kicking the can further down the road, this pattern has repeated itself many times in history, the international financial architecture continues to be inapt, and a non-system for sovereign debt crises resolution based on decentralised market-based instruments prevails”, argue the experts.
They add that governments continue to postpone the inevitable restructuring of this “non-system” needed to create the conditions for a sustainable economic recovery.
The authors conclude the report underlining advocacy strategies and goals for civil society organisations that could help transform the broken and unequal global financial architecture.
Publishers: Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Zambia
Authors: Mukupa Nsenduluka, Mbewe Kalikeka, Nsama Cikwanka
TJNA’s latest report calls for reforms of the tax system in Zambia. While the authors recognise the vital role of the mining industry in the country’s economy, with substantial revenues and employment, they point out that critical reforms of current tax rules are needed to allow for enhanced domestic revenue collection from the sector, which is key to finance the energy transition.
According to the authors’ findings, Zambia has had one change in the mining fiscal regime every 18 months since 2001, which gave little stability to a strategic sector. Another issue is that the value added tax (VAT) generally applies to transactions in the mining sector, but since the production is mostly exported and the VAT has a destination principle, it is zero-rated.
Also, the multiple tax rates that exist in the country make corporate income tax productivity low and create room for tax evasion. To benefit from these multiple rates, companies that operate in different sectors make sure they are classified in the activity with lower taxes.
Furthermore, the authors highlight that the mining sector enjoys a number of tax incentives, which also undermine public resources.
The authors make recommendations to Zambia’s government, such as reviewing the VAT, balancing corporate income tax rates by raising the rates in lower-tax sectors, constantly reviewing tax incentives; and renegotiating double taxation agreements that are lopsided in favour of other countries.
Publisher: Gender and Development Network (GADN)
Authors: Priya Lukka, Sophie Efange and Jessica Woodroffe
The briefing takes readers through the concept of reparation and demonstrates how it is already recognised under international law. Their principle is that “reparations approaches to decolonisation could provide an essential step towards creating a more just and equitable world,” the authors stated.
“The legacies of European empires and the transatlantic slave trade are intricately connected to the historic and ongoing harms visible in the world today. The exploitation of natural resources and people, through slavery and colonialism, have created deep rooted inequalities and systemic injustices that continue to impact the lives of billions of people,” they underline.
The document recalls that the United Nations (UN) approaches the concept of reparations in its Basic Principles and Guidelines (2005), and points out four key steps for the reparation process: restitution, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition. Even though the authors consider UN’s guide an important starting point and useful to demonstrate the validity of the reparations concept in the international law, they believe it misses out the crucial point that is giving the oppressed the right to define the nature of the reparations they’re owed.
Additionally, the briefing underlines that reparations are not only about financial compensations, but mainly about changing the global structures that perpetuates the colonisation legacy. “Colonialism continues to shape and devastate the Global South through undemocratic global economic governance including international trade and investment rules. Challenging these undemocratic systems so former colonisers cede power to those who were colonised could be part of reparations approaches that work towards delivering decolonisation”, they wrote.
GADN’s experts call on people from former coloniser countries who are working in the international development sector to pressure their governments and hold them accountable for their historical part in today’s unequal world.
Photo: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment