Addis Ababa, 15 July 2015 (ECA) – Government representatives, policy makers, academics, civil society and academics at the ongoing Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa agree that to attain sustainable development, the world’s decision makers need true partnership based on mutual respect and acknowledgement of the common but differentiated responsibilities.
The discussion on ‘Global partnership and the three dimensions of sustainable development’ became lively as some stakeholders expressed their concern about the risks of privatising the development finance sector.
Civil society vociferously decried what they see as a growing tendency to undermine the mandate of the United Nations in relation to setting up an international institution to make laws and monitor the global tax sector.
African countries have decided to expand their tax base to collect money to finance for example infrastructure projects where the funding requirements are at an estimated 30 billion dollars per annum for the continent. However the continent loses 50 billion a year to tax evasion, trade mispricing and other illegal financial activities. They argue that failure to change the international finance regulation such as introducing a harmonised global tax system will render sustainable development activities futile.
Countries whose economies are dependent on the international financial sector by offering tax havens to multinational companies also ask for common regulations in the sector. A representative from the Bahamas said “countries in the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM) are suffering because they cannot sustain themselves with new regulations in the financial market.” He argued financial systems should not be monitored ad hoc but we need central institution”.
Mr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of ECA argued that “there is aneed for a new social contract” for many reasons but also to address the all too common challenge when “sustainable development gets forgotten once new challenges threaten the world”.
Citing the recent financial crises as an example of development concerns being relegated to the back burner, Mr. Lopes pointed out that “sustainable development seeks social and economic progress without exhausting the earth’s resources”.
Mr. Lopes said the world should avoid the ‘cappuccino approach’ to sustainable development where economic and social development take precedence over environmental concerns that are usually added as an afterthought.
Mr. Jayant Singh, India’s Minister of State for Finance, one of the panellists said “global partnership is central to ending poverty and hunger and achieving sustainable development. He also acknowledged that “the post-2015 agenda also requires an ambitious level of work and commitment”.
Despite the differences over an international tax regime, Mr. Lopes urged delegates “to look at an array proposals coming from civil society and look at good practices. We have differences and we have to take them into account if we all admit we are in the same boat”.
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