Development writer and international negotiations-watcher Biraj Swain, journalist Mihir Sharma, economist and ex-United Nations diplomat Nitin Desai, global tax regulation advocate Pooja Rangaprasad and UN Women official Yamini Mishra, discuss the 3rd International Financing for Development (FfD) Summit, which recently concluded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July.
India played a major role in the summit and came in for support from G-77, emerging economies and civil society alike. The most contentious item was having a global tax regulatory body where the poor countries, countries with the menace of tax evasion have a say and sit at the table. Because if you are not at the table, you are on the menu – to be gobbled by all. With increasing importance of taxation, domestic revenues for development financing, public services, it is important to plug the loopholes. But while India championed global fair finance, it has not been exactly doing the things it could internally. It increased the royalty payments a couple of years ago, which has meant much more outflow just for brand usage.
Also, the assumption that greater revenue collection will result in greater social spending is faith-based, considering the health and nutrition budgets are shrinking and waivers on super-luxury items is a norm. The optics and the structural and institutional issues of global finance are important. The FfD could have done better in resolving some of that. Another interesting discussion was about how bailouts have been primarily bankers’ retirement plans and have never done anything for the people – one more reason why debt burden, lender’s greed and risk, and profligate borrowing should have been fixed at Addis.