UN conference at Addis Ababa must address resource mobilization to address gender, caste and religion-based disparities

finance1United Nation’s Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) is taking place from July 13 to July 16, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As an outcome of the second conference in May, a revised zero draft of FfD was circulated. At the civil society consultations at Addis Ababa on July 11-12, Paul Divakar, General Secretary of National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), ensured the following insertion into the civil society’s advanced draft submitted to the FfD: “Special measures are needed to address caste and analogous systems of inherited status that perpetuate exclusion and inequalities in the access to economic resources and the benefits of growth” (click HERE to read civil society draft).

A Wada Na Todo Abhiyan response to the FfD’s zero draft:  

It is encouraging to note that the FfD outcome document has a global framework with a goal to achieve and promote social inclusion, gender equality, peaceful and inclusive societies enabling decent work, productive livelihood for all and to respect all human rights including right to development. The FfD3 draft outcome document also agrees to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems, along with specific commitments to ensure an end to hunger, increased investment in health, improved agriculture to ensure food security and delivery of quality education to all children as part of ensuring long-term sustainability of development.

We welcome the steps taken through the FfD3 process in establishing systemic developmental support and resources for the designed sustainable development.

Observations and Recommendations

Better Governance: We welcome the call to ‘strengthen national regulation and international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows (IFFs), tax evasion and corruption’. The draft document stressed on effective fiscal policies and good governance as two determining factors for reaching the transformative goals registered in the Sustainable Developmental Model. We recommend that the draft should encourage progressive taxation through increasing direct taxes than focusing on the indirect taxes. The importance is given to the institutionalising tax flow through international regulation towards ending tax evasion and corruption. The Tax base should be expanded, and with effective collection of taxes, there are more chances for developmental measure and subsequent revenues would catalyse this.

Caste and Religious Inclusion: In order for the FfD draft outcome to advance fully towards an equitable global economic system, where no country or person is left behind in the global context, there should be focus towards the agenda of marginalized based on discrimination based on work and descent (caste). Enhance and use domestic resource mobilisation to invest in public provisioning of essential services and social security in order to address social disparities and income inequalities, including gender, caste and religion-based disparities.

Gender Equality: The FfD3 draft outcome takes cognisance of the fact that gender inequality is one of the major impediments to sustainable development throughout the world, and puts forward systematic pathways in which gender equality, empowerment of women and women’s full participation in the economic sphere can be achieved. The draft outcome commits to ensure that by 2030, all men and women would have equal rights to economic opportunities, access to basic as well as financial services, ownership over land and other forms of property, inheritance and natural resources. However, the draft is blind to the inter-sectionalities of gender and other social structures and locations. In the South Asian context gender needs to be further analysed through inter-sectionalities of caste, class, ethnicity, sexuality and disability, thereby addressing the needs of the vulnerable within, like Dalit women. Therefore sufficient qualitative and quantitative resources need to be set aside specifically to address the concerns of marginalised women. We stress these inter-sectionalities to be foregrounded and guide the principles of financing for development.

Tax Justice: Indirect taxes generally place a higher burden on the poor since the proportion of one’s income going towards consumption taxes tends to be higher at lower levels of income. There is a need for deeper probe on this issue, which can inform taxation policies. The argument put forward by some of the policy makers and commentators that India needs to give tax concessions to attract investment seems to have been an impediment towards adoption of progressive or just taxation policies in the country.

Private Sector and Accountability: Narrow tax bases and wide ranging tax concessions for the private sector have had adverse consequences on revenue growth in a number of developing countries like India. In recent years, fiscal challenges in many developed countries have helped put issues such as tax dodging and limitations of international tax rules under the scanner. However, this problem has affected domestic revenue mobilisation by developing countries, especially those in Asia and Africa.

The existence of a wide network of tax havens, along with an industry of tax lawyers and accountants, has been aiding capital flight out of developing countries, as well as loss of public revenue in these countries, thus adding to the challenge of raising adequate public resources Private sources of funding need to be regulated. Too much of the weight of the developmental agenda is being placed on the private sector thus abdicating the responsibility of the State. If Private sector is to finance the development agenda, there have to be strict human rights standards in place to be followed and made mandatory and this has been mentioned in the draft.

South-South Cooperation: The draft though recognises vulnerability and marginalisation, fails to recognise the south within the south. We recommend the recognition of the south with in the south focusing on the needs of the marginalised communities within the south and centring them in the development process and discussion. The draft encourages the influence of the south-south cooperation for funding development and data mapping. The regional co-operations like SAARC, Southern Africa Development Community, Southern Africa Regional Development Cooperation, ASEAN, AU would help in addressing the problems faced by the excluded communities. However these co-operations do not have a South Asia development plan to ensure the effective implementation of the SDGs in the region. Hence we recommend framework to guide regional cooperation on addressing the disparities of inequalities.

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