The High Level Panel on post 2015 is meeting in Bali this week. Tackling corporate tax avoidance has been a prominent theme in discussions running up to the official talks and is crucial if the new framework is to tackle big issues like women’s rights. But will the Panel members be willing to tackle this thorny issue?
A couple of months ago, I was blogging from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, where members of the UN appointed High Level Panel on post 2015 were meeting. The panel’s task is to build a vision of what should come after the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015.
Monrovia was the panel’s second real meeting with the first in London in October last year. And this week – from 25 to 27 March – the whole procession of panel members, advisors and support staff from the UN arrived en masse in the Indonesian island of Bali for their third and last big meeting. But first, civil society groups and people’s movements from around the globe poured into Bali to prepare their views on the future they want post 2015, to feed into a formal ‘outreach’ day with the panel that took place yesterday.
ActionAid has been working consistently to ensure that human rights, and particularly women’s rights, feature centrally in any new framework. There appears to be strong agreement within the High Level Panel that development can’t happen if women are left behind, but what does that mean in practice? ActionAid has set out the ‘must haves’ if post 2015 is to make a real difference to women going forward, with ending violence against women and girls among the priorities.
But this week in Bali, the discussion is less about what the global development agenda post 2015 should aim to achieve, but how it will do that. Specifically, unless governments have the resources and unless global rules are balanced in favour of developing countries, then all the commitments in the world to equality and human rights simply won’t be delivered and sustained.
That’s why ActionAid is also calling for taxation to be part of the post 2015 talks: at present billions are lost every year as companies exploit every opportunity to pay as little tax as they can. The effect is simple; there is much less money in national budgets to pay for the public services that are needed to end poverty and secure equality.
ActionAid estimates that closing the 20% corporate tax gap in developing countries over 10 years could raise some US$520 billion additional revenue by 2022. Bringing tax into the post 2015 framework would allow the multinational corporations to contribute more fully and more legitimately in stimulating development. It would help address a major chunk of illicit capital flows.
ActionAid is not alone to focus on tax this week. The Bali CSO communiqué presented to the Panel yesterday also called for corporate tax avoidance to be tackled. And Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – a member of the High Level Panel – has also added her voice on the issue, saying:
“I’m really frustrated at these illicit flows. What would it take for G8 and G20 countries to put pressure on those countries acting as tax havens?”
While the UK has agreed to make taxation part of the G8 agenda in June, it remains to be seen if it will have the courage to tackle this thorny issue in the Bali talks.