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The Robin Hood tax and the right to water

The Canwest News Service reports today that, “Momentum is building among some of the world’s richest countries for a global tax on banks, a trend that could give the Conservatives headaches as Canada prepares to host the G20 summit this June.”
The report notes that Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States all support some form of a tax on banks that “could be used to bail out the financial system in the event of another crisis.” The International Monetary Fund has also publicly supported a bank levy.

EurActiv reported on April 1 that, “The European Commission is expected to release a paper in the coming weeks on the kinds of bank and carbon taxes it will be supporting at the June meeting of G20 leaders in Canada.” (There is no word yet on the carbon taxes it will propose.)

“A Commission official was unable to say whether the EU executive had made specific calculations on the kinds of revenue the different measures could produce, but did elaborate on which instruments were explored in the paper. A bank levy was among these, but it remains unclear whether this will target short-term or long-term liabilities in the financial sector, which has been a discussion point at international level.”

The Canwest Newa Service report adds, “All this threatens to make life difficult for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who has repeatedly shot down the notion of a bank tax. ‘I have not seen that consensus forming. We are not going to impose a bank tax in Canada,’ Flaherty replied curtly this week, when asked about the issue.”

And while Harper and Flaherty remain obstinate over the relatively modest measure of a tax on bank liabilities to be used to bail out the financial system in the next economic crisis, there is also a much more ambitious and exciting ‘Robin Hood Tax’ campaign now gaining momentum among non-governmental organizations around the world.

This campaign proposes a 0.05 percent financial transactions tax to raise funds to spend on social and anti-proverty needs domestically and Millenium Development Goals and climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives internationally. (More than ten years ago – in an open letter to Members of Parliament – the Council of Canadians supported the call for such a financial transactions tax. More on that at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2171.)

It has been estimated that this Robin Hood tax would generate $400 billion Cdn a year. A fraction of that amount – some $10-$30 billion a year – could provide clean drinking water to half the 1.1 billion people around the world who need it.

Some 350 economists in more than 35 countries recently signed a letter to the G20 calling for the Robin Hood tax, including Jeffrey Sachs. His column – ‘Robin Hood tax’s time has come’ – can be read at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/18/robin-hood-tax-benefits.

Information on the UK campaign for this tax can be read at http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/.

The Canwest News Service report is at http://www.montrealgazette.com/story_print.html?id=2762568&sponsor=.

The EurActiv report is at http://www.euractiv.com/en/financial-services/eu-readies-g20-proposal-bank-and-carbon-levies-news-399928.

To sign the MakefinanceWork for people and the planet petition, go to http://www.makefinancework.org/. This petition has been endorsed by many of our allies including 11.11.11, ATTAC-Quebec, Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, the Seattle to Brussels Network, the Transnational Institute, War on Want, and The Halifax Initiative (Canada).