Despite the differences in country contexts, organizational capacities, political opinions and positions of individual members, the 2-day regional assembly was able to conclude the formation of “Asian Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance” and jointly set out initial action plans.
The Coordinating Committee will soon convene its first meeting and an official Asian Declaration on Tax Justice will be released. The newly founded Asian Tax Justice and Fiscal Alliance will serve as a platform to promote exchanges, cooperation and joint efforts within the region on tax justice work. It will also work closely with the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and draw on its resources and expertise.
In many developing countries, multinational corporations (MNCs) enjoy more rights than citizens. This is certainly the case when it comes to taxes. As development agenda hinge in large part on attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs), governments offer a range of substantial tax incentives to prospective investors and enter into treaties advantageous to corporations.
These have been documented as resulting in huge profit for MNCs on one hand and massive forgone public revenues on the other. These are crucial development issues as well as justice issues, considering that South governments often cite the inadequacy of public resources to rationalize significant unmet human development needs.
As early as in the 1990s, a number of peoples movements and civil society organizations in various Asian countries have been taking up tax justice issues to fight inequality and ensure financing for quality public services and sustainable development. Many more are interested to link tax issues to the main themes they are campaigning on such as extractive industries, social protection, natural resources, sustainable livelihoods and labor rights.
While there has been a recognition that much more can be done to synergize efforts, facilitate mutual support and solidarity and advance on collective advocacy and campaigning on common issues and challenges, previous efforts to create a region-wide alliance have faced numerous challenges, from both within and outside the movements.
Considering this background it is a big step forward that Asian Tax Justice Alliance is born! Although the road ahead might not always be strewn with rose petals, as fighting for justice is never easy and although many challenges, old and new, are to be anticipated, the success of the region-wide formation needs to be praised and it is a leap for tax justice movements in Asia.