Global Week of Action – Robin Hood Tax and G8

KC Ishdeep Koholi on the Robin Hood Tax global week of action, which took place from May 18 to May 22 in the wake of the G8 Summit at Camp David.

The Robin Hood Tax global week of action took place from May 18 to May 22 in the wake of the G8 Summit at Camp David.

France’s new President, Francois Hollande, and Germany’s Angela Merkel are leading the fight for a financial transaction tax to fund the fight against poverty and climate change.

The late James Tobin, a Nobel prize-winning economist, popularized the idea of taxing financial transactions to restrain speculation in the 1970s. With many donor country governments dealing with large deficits, and aid budgets in many countries frozen or declining, it is critical that we find innovative ways to raise the necessary funds.

According to Oxfam, the world’s poorest countries are facing a $65 billion hole in their budgets because of the financial crisis. And this means children missing out on school, people living with AIDS going without medicine, roads not being built and more people going hungry.

The Robin Hood Tax, more formally known as a Financial Transaction Tax, is a tiny tax on financial transactions by investment banks, hedge funds and other finance institution that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change. It can start as low as 0.005 per cent – and average 0.05 per cent – but when levied on the billions of dollars moving round the global finance system daily through transactions such as foreign exchange, derivatives, bonds, currencies, commodities and share deals, it could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually. This can provide for vital investment in much needed and underfunded public services like health and education, resource efforts to conserve our environment, aid the fight against global poverty, HIV and climate change. This money can help shape the future of our world. The tax would not be levied on everyday banking transactions conducted by individuals.

Plenty of business bigwigs are on board, including philanthropist George Soros, US businessman extraordinaire Warren Buffet, Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs. At the G20 in November 2011, Bill Gates threw his weight behind the proposal. The proposal is also supported by the Vatican, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson and Ban Ki-Moon. Activists around the world are lobbying for this global financial transactions tax, supported by a range of United Nations human rights experts and other charities, green groups, trade unions, community organizations, celebrities, religious leaders and politicians.

During the G8 summit at Camp David, hundreds of nurses wearing Robin Hood hats and red t-shirts are rallying for the Robin Hood Tax. National Nurses United are being backed by at least 100 other environmental, health and labour groups who also converged on the Chicago streets to demand this financial transaction tax.

With the G8 and NATO meetings being held back to back, NGOs hope for the representatives of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia to discuss the issue further and make the Robin Hood Tax a reality.