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Africa must make tax work for the people

by Akhator Joel Odigie

 Africa must make tax work for the people

 

“We know for a fact that Africa is rich, but almost everywhere her people continue to live and work in poverty, want and misery. This is not right and it is not fair. In fact, these realities are at the heart of the injustice under neo-liberal globalisation and it is encouraging that we all have elected to fight to reverse this trend,” said Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa).

He was speaking at an event where trade union leaders from 30 African countries representing national centres and Global Union Federations gathered for a meeting titled “Moving Africa’s Development and Industrialisation Agenda Forward: Trade Union Alternatives”.

It was held in Accra, Ghana from 23- 25 September, 2013, under the auspices of the ITUC-Africa to further the aspirations of Africa’s transformation agenda.

Africa is land, mineral and human resources rich. It is the world’s second biggest continent, with 30 million km² of land, and it also has one of the largest mineral industries in the world.

Demographically, Africa is a young continent; in some countries more than half of the population is under 25 years.

These resources could be used to transform and sustain the wellbeing of the people and their communities. But the reality is the complete opposite: life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is around 54 years, unemployment rates are estimated at 40 per cent and nearly 80 per cent of its people live on less than US $2 a day.

Participants in the forum agreed that a concerted effort must be engineered to dispel current negative development narratives around Africa – peoples’ contributions could and should lead to nation-building and shared prosperity.

To achieve this will demand concerted structural efforts. One such effort will be the aggressive pursuit of the implementation of the African Mining Vision (AMV).

Adopted following an African Union meeting in February 2009, amongst other aims, it seeks to: extract value-addition for Africa’s minerals; undertake mineral exploration and production in an environmentally sustainable way, and; to provide for opportunities where people and their communities can benefit from their common wealth.

The AVM is a middle and long-term industrialisation effort. In the short run, real efforts must be mounted to address the crisis of poverty and inequality.

An effective and sustainable social protection floor was reaffirmed as one such effort at the forum.

Unfortunately, illicit financial flows and other forms of tax evasion have contributed in no small measure to the erosion of financial resources for the provision of social necessities such as education, health care, sanitation and nutrition.

The forum agreed to mobilise African workers, organisations, Global Union Federations and progressive civil society organisations under an advocacy tax justice campaign to end harmful tax incentives, tax evasion, illicit financial flow, asset theft and tax havens so as to increase the chances for domestic resource mobilisation.

The campaign will also fight for the adoption of a Financial Transaction Tax to further increase the chances for financing post-2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Moments such as Africa Industrialisation Day (28 November), May Day (1 May) and other important commemorative dates will be maximised to increase awareness and action for this campaign.

 

For more information on the campaign or on ITUC-Africa, visit the website: http://www.ituc-africa.org

 

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