Lucy joined in with a busy week of campaigning; meeting MPs in Parliament and helping prepare for our event with three fantastic tax justice campaigners. Here's her round up of the event.
Last minute preparations for the tax justice campaign event complete: food on the table, juices poured, goodie bags in place on chairs, conference room ready, tax justice props on display, petition forms and pens on tables, speakers present and staff ready. The doors to 33-39 Bowling Green Lane opened and guests started to arrive: a mixed bag of nationalities, ages and occupations, but all sharing one common interest: Tax Justice.
Alvin Mosioma of the Tax Justice Network Africa, was the first to speak. The relationship between taxes and development were discussed, and Alvin explained the importance of domestic money, rather than external, for a country’s progression. Of course, to generate domestic money, one needs... tax. We were asked to consider this quote: “Tax is the price we pay for civilisation”. I’m no expert on the ins and outs of tax and why it’s so important, but this quote, and Alvin’s discussion, helped illustrate the point perfectly.
Next was Jorge Coronado from Latindadd in Costa Rica who stressed the importance of tax justice for everybody: It does not affect only certain sectors of society, but everybody. For justice to be achieved, the mobilisation will need everybody, both on a local and global scale. Jorge (and his translator, so that he was not forced to speak in Shakespeare’s language!) did an excellent job of setting out the Costa Rica agenda on tax justice, which is essential, in one of Latin America’s many tax havens.
Third to speak was Lidy Nacpil from Jubilee South in the Philippines, who proposed a comprehensive set of points to consider: Taxes can be regressive and anti-poor, thanks to policies enforced by the IMF. Taxes come hand in hand with budget, and if a country is struggling, the response should not necessarily be more tax, but better public spending. Taxation may result in gender discrimination, especially in the case of single headed households. And last, the relationship between climate change and tax was addressed. If the North is largely causing climate change, and the South need funds to cope and adapt, so the North must pay, perhaps in the form of a resource tax. Lidy provided plenty of food for thought.
I had sat down expecting a pretty long ordeal: visions of lengthy speeches, vocabulary and phrases I didn’t understand, topics I hadn’t heard of... It was quite the opposite: it flew by, I did understand a good 90% of what was going on, and I left with my head buzzing about all the things I’d learnt and the different takes on tax that I’d heard. The whole event was handled in small and manageable chunks, and in surprisingly understandable jargon, including question time at the end (despite the musical accompaniment from the recorder-players practicing for a musical pub quiz on the street outside...).