GROUPS CALL FOR CANADIAN SUPPORT OF ‘ROBIN HOOD TAX
OTTAWA Canadian aid and development groups are calling on Canadians and the federal government to get behind the so-called Robin Hood tax, a tiny tax on financial transactions that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change both at home and abroad.
The tax will be discussed by the G20 at their summit in June in Toronto.
‘This tiny tax five-hundredths of one per cent could save the lives of the half-million women dying in pregnancy or childbirth every year for lack of basic healthcare, said Oxfam Canada Policy Coordinator Mark Fried. ‘We pay our taxes so all Canadians can have quality public services, why shouldn’t the big banks chip in their share?
Economists estimate that the proposed 0.05 per cent tax on speculative banking transactions such as bonds, derivatives, currencies and hedge fund trading could raise more than $650 billion each year. To protect consumers, the Robin Hood Tax, also called a financial transaction tax, would be limited to transactions between banks and other financial institutions. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have all stated their support of the financial transaction tax.
‘A financial transactions tax would be good for the economy, said Toby Sanger, Senior Economist, Canadian Union of Public Employees. ‘It would help to dampen financial speculation, redirect finance to more productive purposes and promote greater economic stabilityâ€”as well as raise funds for vital human needs. That’s why hundreds of economists from around the world, as well as other world leaders, are in favour of it. The Canadian government should pledge its support instead of standing in the way of this sensible idea.
In addition to raising funds to help protect against future economic crises, the Robin Hood tax is an innovative way to fund countries struggling to achieve their Millennium Development Goals, and for governments to generate the large sums needed to fight against climate change.
‘The Canadian government has repeatedly promised to do its fair share to help developing countries address climate change, and yet Canada remains the only G8 country to not have put anything on the table, said Dale Marshall, Climate Change Policy Analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation. ‘The financial transaction tax is an innovative way for the Conservative government to deliver on commitments made in Copenhagen and the Throne Speech.
Unlike other banking reforms, the Robin Hood Tax is intended to raise enough money to help poor people, protect public services and tackle climate change at home and abroad.
Leaked documents posted on the BBC website show a report by the International Monetary Fund prepared for the G20 meeting this week in Washington is advocating for a global banking tax.
According to the BBC website, the IMF is proposing that ‘all institutions pay a bank levy – initially at a flat-rate – and also face a further tax on profits and pay. The measures are designed to make banks pay for the costs of future financial and economic rescue packages.
‘The IMF has given a green light to taxing banks, which is positive, said Oxfam Canada Policy Coordinator Mark Fried. ‘We need to see hundreds of millions of dollars every year going to fight poverty and climate change.
“While clearly not their favoured option, the IMF has said that there are no practical objections to the financial transactions tax otherwise known as the Robin Hood Tax and that it could be applied on top of another bank levy.”
For further information, please see: RobinHoodTax.ca.
Karen Palmer Justine Lesage
Oxfam Canada Oxfam-Quebec