Anti poverty NGO and La Bouche contibuters War on Want campaign for those worse affected by globalization from factories and sweatshops to conflict zones and rural communities.
As the global economy lurches from crisis to crisis, driven by skittish markets, the G20 met recently in Cannes in southern France. The self-appointed group has given itself the task of sorting out the financial crisis, yet despite the severity of the situation they showed themselves to be lacking in new ideas.
At the same time the Occupy movement, taking inspiration from the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, continues to expand in size and symbolism; the breakup of the Zuccotti Park demonstration in New York today is a blatant attempt to stifle a growing movement. It’s clearer than ever that the G20’s ‘business as usual’ approach of cuts and bailouts is not working and so people are coming together to work out new visions of global and local economies that aren’t based on maximising profit for corporations.
The economic problems in Greece and Italy knocked almost everything off the official agenda. However two important tax justice issues, partly due to strong campaigning across the world, now have so much momentum that they had to be discussed.
The first was regulating tax havens. There was a little movement as the meeting listed 11 tax havens that hadn’t delivered on tax transparency and agreed to sign a convention that would allow tax information to be shared amongst them. But there was still far too much reliance on voluntary actions by companies, for example in creating automatic information transfer systems, which if applied rigorously and compulsorily could begin to unravel the secrets of tax havens.
The rest of the G20’s announcements amounted to yet more rhetoric, three years after they first met. David Cameron called for principles to govern tax transparency and anti-corruption, despite so far doing nothing to tackle the UK’s own network of tax havens including the biggest of them all – the City of London.
On the other issue, a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), it became clearer than ever how much the UK government is in thrall to the City. Whereas almost all the rest of the G20 agreed that an FTT is possible and desirable, the UK was increasingly isolated in trying to fight against it.
An FTT – a fraction of a percent tax on financial transactions – would both help rein in the millions of computer-controlled trades that banks do every day which destabilise the global economy, and raise billions of pounds that would destroy the case for cuts in the UK. Yet despite this, the UK government is still listening to banking lobbyists rather than expert advice and common sense.
The G20 has no meaningful plans that address the scale of the problems in the global economy. Radical changes are urgently needed to reassert democracy and stop rising inequality while at home we need to rein in the City and fight the cuts. Tax justice, including creating an FTT and closing tax havens, will go a long way towards achieving this.
The next stage in the fight against the government’s austerity programme, and to return economic policy to the interests of the many not the few, is the trade union strikes on 30 November. Please keep an eye on the War on Want website for more information on events in London and around the country from next week.
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