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Considerable Progress at Cannes?

At the G20 meeting in Cannes, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates lent his support to the proposal by France and Germany to introduce a financial transactions tax. According to Gates, a FTT could, even without the participation of USA and the UK, bring ca 9 billion dollars per year for innovative development. The outcome of the G20 for the FTT is assessed differently by the Robin Hood Tax Campaign and Attac France.
Presenting his report "Innovation With Impact: Financing 21st Century Development" to the G20 leaders, Bill Gates stressed the need for governments to maintain Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in straitened times.

A summary of Mr Gates's speech including his examples of research and innovation which might be financed with, for instance, revenue from a FTT, is found at Left Foot Forward, a political blog which is close to British trade unions.

For the text of Bill Gates' report “Innovation with Impact: Financing 21st Century Development", go here.

The Robin Hood Tax campaign commented:

Cannes (4 Nov. 2011) - International campaigners for the Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) or the Robin Hood Tax are reporting considerable progress coming out of the recent G20 meeting in Cannes, France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that South Africa, Brazil, Argentina have joined those already supportive - France, Germany, Spain, the European Commission, the African Union and the Secretary General of United Nations (UN).

Sarkozy hopes to see movement towards the implementation in early 2012 and added that a proportion should be linked to development.

In response, Max Lawson, a spokesperson for Oxfam UK's Robin Hood Tax campaign, said, “We are delighted that a growing group of G20 nations from Brazil to Germany to South Africa have answered the call of millions who want the financial sector to contribute to the fight against poverty and climate change."

James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), sees this as a clear message to the Harper government and Canada's financial sector.

"While there was not unanimous support for the Robin Hood Tax at the G20 our Prime Minister must be feeling increasingly isolated in his opposition. Canadians want this country to champion international measures that will help the poor and fight climate change not lobby on behalf of the financial sector."

"Also, while our banking sector may have faired better during the recent economic crisis, people are starting to demand that they start paying their fair share!"

Many point to the report prepared by Microsoft founder Bill Gates as a game changer at the meeting as it confirms that countries, as several have already done, can go ahead and proceed with implementing their own FTT.

Clancy added,"With the increasing threats to the global economic system, world leaders must act to fix the system. The Robin Hood Tax, by curbing casino capitalism, can be part of the way forward."

Attac France, for its part, is less enthusiastic about the progress made at G20 and President Sarkozy's support for the FTT:

Rarement un G20 aura donné une telle image de la démission des dirigeants du monde face au pouvoir des marchés financiers. L’agenda des chefs d’État a été chamboulé par l’annonce d’un référendum en Grèce sur le plan de sauvetage de l’euro : tout a été mis en œuvre pour faire renoncer M. Papandréou à son projet « consternant » (comme l’a déclaré Nicolas Sarkozy). Le précédent ainsi créé – consulter le peuple sur une politique d’austérité destinée à satisfaire les marchés financiers ! – était bien trop dangereux pour être toléré par nos oligarchies.

Pour le reste, les résultats sont squelettiques. La taxe sur les transactions financières, grande priorité de la présidence française du G20 ? Barack Obama a accepté que le mot figure dans le communiqué final. Mais dans une formule parfaitement creuse : « nous reconnaissons les initiatives de certains de nos pays pour taxer le secteur financier avec plusieurs objectifs, y compris une taxe sur les transactions financières, pour financer notamment le développement ». Le minimum décent aurait été qu’un groupe de pays annonce la mise en place effective dès 2012 d’une taxe Tobin pour servir d’exemple. Mais cette taxe, que nous réclamons depuis douze ans, va continuer à orner les discours de M. Sarkozy pendant la campagne électorale sans avoir avancé d’un iota pendant sa présidence, en France ou au G20

We note that the American President has now also accepted to let the financial transactions tax be mentioned in a joint statement. On the other hand, the political leaders of the word seem to be as far as ever from a global currency transactions tax (CTT) and an international CTT Organisation (CTTO) like the one outlined at the second World Social Forum by Heikki Patomäki and Lieven Denys in their Draft Treaty on CTT.


Last modified 2011-11-05 10:51 PM

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