FfD Forum 2019

Statement to Panel A: “Domestic public resources” on behalf of Civil Society FfD Group (including the Women’s Working Group on FfD)

Delivered by Misun Woo, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

17 April 2019

Thank you chair for the opportunity.  My name is Misun Woo from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and speaking for Women’s Working Group for FfD in collaboration with CSOs for FfD.  

Over the past two days, we have heard repeated emphasis on the crucial role of private sectors, insufficient public resource and hence the urgency to attract private finance or investments to realise sustainable development.  We also heard about the importance of women’s economic empowerment, and putting more resource behind women. However, unfortunately, it has largely been in a way that depoliticises women’s struggles by promoting women’s simple insertion to current neoliberal economic system such as a target to increase women’s entrepreneurship, rather than a measure to shift the power relations that leads to women exercising power to make decisions over their bodies, lives and communities’ sustainable and just future.  This panel particularly addressed the role of taxation to mobilise domestic public resources, and much emphasis has gone to progressive taxation.

Allow me to remind you that progressive taxation, including ensuring corporations pay their share of tax, affirmative social policies to increase minimum wage or eliminate discrimination against women will not be allowed under the current trade and investment rules.  Addis Ababa Action Agenda defines trade as an engine of inclusive growth and poverty reduction. On the contrary, trade and investment agreements, particularly through the investor state dispute settlement clauses act as a structural barrier to reducing inequalities of wealth, power and resources between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women.  At least, 24 countries have faced over 40 known ISDS cases on tax related issues, including on government’s measures to end tax breaks or impose corporate tax on capital gains. This is a direct attack on state sovereignty that stems from peoples’ consent. ISDS in average cost several millions, if not billion dollars, a valuable public resources that should have been allocated to advance sustainable development and Addis commitments.

We urge states to address the policy coherence as an urgent matter, and consequently shift your focus to reviewing the impact of ISDS clauses on policies in the public interest, including progressive tax policies; exercise your capacity to regulate multinational corporations for the public interest; and conduct human rights, gender and environmental impact assessments of economic and fiscal policy reforms.  I thank you for your attention.

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