Diana Wanjiku

  • By Diego Azzi |CUT International Relations Advisor and member of REBRIP
    Originally posted at: http://www.rebrip.org.br/noticias/os-brics-correndo-por-fora-the-brics-running-a-good-race-b1c8/

    Analysis of the results of Ufa indicates important movements in the block.
    In sports jargon, the expression “run a good race” applies to those competitors who, although not among the favorites, discretely do a good job and end up achieving surprising success. Applied to the international political arena, this expression could well be used to analyze the BRICS.
    If, on one hand, these countries cannot be considered exactly “underdogs” of international politics – due to the scope of their economies, populations, territories, productive capacities, etc. –, neither do they rank among those traditionally identified as favorites before the start of the race. What is clear is that the BRICS have been operating – discretely – in a way to achieve success that may surprise many skeptics. Their latest summit – held this month in Russia with the theme “The BRICS Partnership – a Powerful Factor for Global Development” – produced some important results that more clearly show the dimension of the advances underway.
    In addition to the political declaration and action plan, it is important to highlight the fact that for the first time the BRICS adopted the “Strategy for a BRICS Economic Partnership,” or simply “The BRICS Strategy,” a medium term economic strategy (2015-2020) that translates the contents of the political statement into various concrete actions. In addition to delineating the principles of the strategic partnership between the BRICS, the document establishes 8 priority areas for cooperation: a) Trade and Investments; b) Manufacturing and Mineral Processing; c) Energy; d) Agriculture; e) Science, Technology & Innovation; f) Finance; g) Connectivity; h) Institutional Connectivity; i) Physical Connectivity; j) Connectivity between Peoples; k) Information and Communication Technologies.
    The last three sessions of the strategy support the intention of the BRICS to lead in their respective regions, strengthen the international WTO regime against treaties made outside it, and act jointly within the G20.  The importance of the role of the private sector, in general, and the Business Council of the BRICS, in particular, stands out in implementing the strategy proposed by the governments.
    The main themes addressed in the Final Declaration of the BRICS are summarized below.
    – The BRICS and multilateralism: Right from the start the declaration states that there should be greater coordination among the BRICS countries in the various multilateral forums and more joint positioning.
    – New institutions: Next, it mentions the fact that the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), approved in 2014 in Fortaleza, now actually begin operation. Within the framework of the Ufa action plan, the BRICS Financial Forum and the meeting of central bank presidents also took place.
    – Regional influence: The BRICS continued the tradition and also held a number of parallel meetings with the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There were various bilateral meetings with governments, primarily from the Euro-Asian region, but also from other regions, such as Iran, for example.
    – UN: Mention of the 70 years of the United Nations and emphasis on the importance of respect for international law as an essential element for promotion of peace and security. The long session of the Final Declaration dedicated to the United Nations contains a reaffirmation of its importance for peace and security in the world and the commitment of the BRICS to this multilateral space, but also criticized, in particular, the lack of democratization of spaces such as the Security Council, in which India, Brazil and South Africa have requested permanent seats, now with the support of Russia and China.
    – Global economy: The BRICS governments warn of the fact that the recovery of the global economy remains quite slow and the risks of a new crisis continue to exist. Disagreements in relation to non-conventional monetary practices on the part of the advanced economies should be expressed during the next G20 meeting to be presided over by China after the 2015 summit in Turkey. The BRICS again express their deep disappointment with the lack of implementation of the IMF reform package approved in 2010. Although the current problems in restructuring sovereign debt are referenced, there is no specific mention of the case of Greece or negotiations with the Troika. The BRICS decided to continue discussing and expanding the option to use national currencies in intra-BRIC transactions.
    – Global trade: The governments defend the WTO as the multinational forum to regulate global trade, which should provide the legal framework of reference for any bilateral, regional or international accords. There are advances in implementation of a reference framework for promoting intra-BRICS e-commerce. It was decided to hold an annual meeting of the export credit agencies of the five countries.
    – Taxation: Taxes should be charged where economic activities take place and where value is created. Concern with the impact of tax evasion on the tax base of the countries and, consequently, on their ability to provide public services.
    – Terrorism: Reaffirmation of their condemnation of all forms of terrorism. Defense of the UN as the main mechanism to fight and prevent terrorism in the world and a commitment to continue contributing financially to the UN task force to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
    – Drugs: In 2015, the BRICS held two meetings of high authorities in the fight against drugs. The block states that it will seek convergence for operation in the special session of the UN General Assembly on the global drug problem in 2016.
    – Corruption: Decision to create a working group among the BRICS for anti-corruption cooperation and defense of the operation of the UN Conference on States Parties on Corruption, November 2-6, in Saint Petersburg.
    – Organized crime and maritime piracy: Organized crime should become a long term priority on the United Nations agenda. Maritime piracy represents a threat to security and development.
    – Space exploration: Reaffirmation that space exploration should be promoted only for peaceful purposes. The BRICS should expand their coordination and cooperation in the development and application of space technologies; navigation satellites (including GLONASS and Beidou); and space science in general.
    – The Internet and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): Creation of a working group on Information and Communication Technologies. Support for inclusion of themes related to ICTs in the Post-2015 Agenda negotiating process and defense of greater access to ICTs to empower women and more vulnerable groups to achieve the objectives of the Post-2015 Agenda. Defense of the role of the United Nations in regulating the Internet, to ensure that it is secure, open, non-fragmented and inclusive.
    – Natural and social disasters: The first meeting of heads of agencies responsible for managing disasters will take place in 2016 in Saint Petersburg.
    – Political conflicts in the world: The declaration took a position on various current conflicts (the majority in Africa), such as the crisis in Syria, chronic instability in Iraq, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Middle East as a nuclear-free zone (Israel has nuclear weapons). It further mentions Iran, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Mali, Congo, Burundi, the Central African Republic and the actions of the Boko Haram extremist group, mainly in Nigeria. There is no mention of conflict occurring in the Americas.
    – Industrialization and strengthening of the real economy: The governments argued that development of the real sector of the economy becomes a particularly significant factor at times when the financial system is unstable and prices of the main commodities are volatile. Measures are being taken to increase production and export of high value-added consumer goods in the BRICS. The countries agreed that they will establish greater cooperation to promote investment in railways, roads, ports and airports.
    – Agriculture: Coordinated action of the BRICS should also take place with more intensity with regard to the FAO, through the informal advisory group of the BRICS in Rome. The governments stated that they will intensify their cooperation in agriculture, with emphasis on agricultural technologies, innovation and adaptation of agriculture to climate change. No mention is made of the use of agricultural chemicals or transgenic seeds.
    – Energy: The security of industrial and energy installations should be the theme of a meeting of heads of BRICS industrial and energy security regulatory agencies, to be held in Russia. In May 2015, the first official meeting on energy efficiency was held and the first meeting of BRICS energy ministers is planned for the end of 2015. The governments appealed to the business sector of the five countries to study the possibility of cooperating in this field.
    – Production of statistical data: The statistical bodies of the BRICS will establish cooperation in order to support the United Nations in creating and monitoring Post-2015 Agenda indicators.
    – Increased Tourism: The governments committed to working to build a long-term strategy to increase intra-BRICS tourism.
    – Work: It was decided to hold the first Summit of Labor Ministers, planned for January-February 2016 in Russia. The focus should be on creating decent jobs and exchanging information on the labor market. For the first time, the Union Forum (currently in its 4thedition) is mentioned in the Final Declaration and the BRICS Action Plan. The union confederations were invited to participate in the Ministers Summit next year.
    – Population and demographics: Population challenges and their relation to the economic development of the BRICS should continue to be addressed in a meeting in Russia in November 2015. The countries reiterated their commitments to the BRICS Agenda for Cooperation on Population Matters for 2015-2020, agreed to in Brasilia in February 2015.
    – Migrations: The governments recognize the transnational nature of the migratory phenomenon and agree that during the Russian presidency the first BRICS ministerial meeting on migration will take place.
    – Health: The document restates recognition of the right of all persons to access to health services of the highest possible standard, without distinction of any nature, for themselves and for their families. The countries commit to deepening intra-BRICS cooperation and cooperation of the BRICS with the United Nations in the sense of preventing and fighting transmissible diseases, such as the Ebola virus.
    – Science and technology: After holding the second ministerial meeting on science, technology and innovation in March 2015, in Brasilia, the BRICS signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation. The governments reaffirmed their intention to promote the BRICS initiative on research and technology.
    – Education: In the field of education, the countries recognize the importance of vocational education and training programs to help young people enter the job market. Student mobility in the BRICS will be stimulated and there will be an effort to exchange experience on ways to validate university diplomas between the countries. The governments welcome independent initiatives to create a BRICS university network.
    – Culture: The cultural dimension should be addressed with more emphasis in the BRICS after signing of the Accord on Cooperation in the Field of Culture, aimed at expansion of cooperation in the fields of culture and the arts, promotion of intercultural dialogue and approximation of peoples and cultures.
    – Post-2015 Agenda: The BRICS restated their commitment to an ambitious agenda to be adopted by the UN in September 2015. Explicit defense of the principle of common, but differentiated responsibilities. With respect to negotiations on financing for development, the declaration charges the developed countries with fulfilling their commitment to official development assistance.
    – Cooperation: There are plans to hold a high level meeting of those responsible in each country for cooperation for development. The BRICS will continue supporting South-South cooperation, emphasizing, however, that this is not a substitute for North-South cooperation.
    – Climate: The BRICS emphasize the issue of technology and knowledge transfer as one of the main results expected of the climate negotiations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The environmental ministers of the BRICS met for the first time this year, in April 2015. The BRICS support the development of public-private partnerships (PPPs) that help fight the environmental challenges of each country.
    – Parliaments: Members of parliament of the BRICS met in Moscow in June 2015 and should work to harmonize legislation that facilitates the commercial exchange and movement of people between the countries.
    – The business community: The BRICS Business Forum has been working to remove excess existing barriers and obstacles to intra-BRICS trade. In the same sense, they demand simplification of business visas between the countries of the block.
    – Think-tanks: The 7th Academic Forum of the BRICS took place in Moscow this year, promoted by the Think Tanks Council, whose main production has been the BRICS Long-Term Strategy for Reports document.
    – Other forums: The countries welcomed the initiative of the Russian presidency to hold a BRICS Civil Forum (Civil BRICS), as well as a Union Forum and a Youth Forum held in Kazan.
    – BRICS website: A common BRICS website will be created that can be converted into the website of a future block secretariat.
    Next presidential meetings: The next meeting of BRICS heads of state will take place simultaneously with the G20 summit in Turkey, in November 2015. The next summit will be in India.
    As can be easily seen, cooperation between the BRICS goes far beyond the New Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement, its two most commented on initiatives. From political coordination at the multilateral level, to issues such as energy, technology, health, education, work, parliaments, development and culture… the BRICS are running a good race.

  • ThumbnailBlog post by Pooja Parvati  | Research Manager, Oxfam India
    Photo credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
    This article was originally posted at: https://www.oxfamindia.org/featuredstories/1054

    Did you know […]

  • This article was originally posted at: http://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/?p=6853

    July 10, 2015, Geneva – Dozens of organizations and social movements mobilized this week in Geneva to send a strong message to the United Nations Human Rights Council, to urge them to take action against corporate impunity. The negotiation of a binding instrument on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and Human Rights is an unmatched opportunity to provide access to justice to victims of corporate human rights abuses.
     The Global Cstopampaign to Dismantle Corporate Power – a coalition of 190 social movements, networks and organizations from around the world – organized a week of mobilizations along with the Treaty Alliance and Swiss social movements. Several activities were held inside and outside of the Palais des Nations, in order to give publicity to this effort and let States know that the people are watching and will not allow this process to be derailed by TNCs or the States they captured.
     In addition to taking action inside the UNHRC meetings, through numerous interventions to the Intergovernmental Working Group, the Campaign organized a weeklong occupation of the Place des Nations with popular discussions on the abuses of power by TNCs and the need of a treaty to redress them. The main demands of the campaign are based on an 8 points submission to the IGWG, which was built from the recommendations and demands of victims, affected communities, social movements and other civil society organizations from every corner of the world.
     In her intervention to the IGWG, Rosiane Mendes, an affected by the operations of Brazilian mining company Vale from the community Santa Rita, Estado de Maranhao (Brasil), emphasized the need for a treaty by saying that “we have no means or mechanisms for access to justice or to reclaim our rights, so we must look to other organizations and movements to report the facts and to present our proposals to the states, which must hear the voices of the people and not corporations.”
    tncs
    The opportunity to speak about TNCs violations inside the UNHRC is an historic advance, although the behavior of certain states during this process still raise concerns. The Campaign cannot but regret that home states of most TNCs showed no interest in discussing binding human rights norms for TNCs. While Canada, the United States and Norway were absent from all sessions, the European Union (EU) attempted to derail the process during the IGWG’s opening session by objecting to the agenda for the meeting and demanding a modification of the mandate of IGWG established in UN Human Rights Resolution 26/9. The blocking tactics caused an impasse that was finally overcome when it became clear there was no consensus from participating States to adopt the EU’s proposal.
     In response to the EU’s maneuvers, Brid Brennan of the Transnational Institute and the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity stated that “as civil society organizations and social movements, present here at the UN, we protest the disruptive behavior of the EU, and we challenge its member states to declare their position on this matter. The wellbeing of millions of people globally who have endured systematic corporate violations of their human rights depend on the IGWG to be able to continue and to fulfill its mandate, despite the EU’s actions.”
     The position of powerful states is also a democratic issue. As Podemos MEP Lola Sánchez stated at the outset of the session, “The EU is working more as an ambassador of big corporations than a defender of international human rights law. A clear example of this disturbing position is the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and Europe that could contain an investment protection agreement that will give economic interests primacy over human rights.”
     Now that the session concluded with the adoption of a first report we have to prepare for next steps. “States should now continue meaningful intercessional consultation, particularly with people affected by TNC abuses, to ensure real progress in the next round of negotiations,” continued Brid Brennan, underlining the importance of encouraging and involving states in this process to end the corporate impunity and build strong mechanisms to enforce human rights.
    Kindly access the Full Campaign Submission: 8 proposals for legally binding instrument-jul2015

  • This article was originally posted at:   http://www.globaltaxjustice.org

    On 15 July 2015, at a summit of world government representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development final outcome text was concluded. A key proposal was rejected to set up an inclusive United Nations intergovernmental global tax body, where every country would have a seat at the table and equal say in reforming global tax policies. This measure had been advocated by many G77 countries and strongly backed by Global Alliance for Tax Justice members and allies. Establishing such a political body on tax within the UN was seen as an effective way to ensure developing countries could increase domestic resource mobilization through fairer international tax policies.
    Instead, only a few minor tweaks have been made to the existing UN expert committee. The United States and the United Kingdom were among the developed countries pressuring to ensure that the “the rich countries club” of the OECD remains the only intergovernmental body that sets global tax standards for all.
    No specific debt relief initiatives are contained in the FfD outcome document, while privatization and private finance are heavily promoted as ‘solutions’ to financing for development. The problem of illicit financial flows was strongly debated, but final language around the issue remains weak, with no clear measures for implementation. Member states are simply urged to “redouble efforts to substantially reduce illicit financial flows by 2030, with a view to eventually eliminate them, including by combatting tax evasion and corruption through strengthened national regulation and increased international cooperation.”Eng_business_lobbyists_twitter
    Global Alliance for Tax Justice Chair Dereje Alemayehu said: “This came down to a matter of power between rich and poor, developed countries and the rest of the world, and private corporate interests versus the common good. The most powerful countries have ensured the status quo continues in their favour – but only for the moment. Tax justice activists can take heart that our years of advocacy, research and campaigning have ensured that mobilization for real progressive change on these issues will only continue to grow at national, regional and global levels.”
    During various FfD events, Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation members José Antonio Ocampo, Joseph Stiglitz and Eva Joly, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena, UN Economic Commission for Africa Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, and even the World Bank’s President Jim Yong Kim commended civil society activists for pushing tax justice demands – including the call for an inclusive global tax body, to the top of the agenda in both formal and behind-the-scenes Financing for Development discussions, and urged civil society to continue efforts on this front.
    CSO Forum statement – see this link
    Statement from Bangladeshi CSOs – see this link
    Stop the Bleeding Campaign to End Illicit Financial Flows from Africa – please sign the petition
    Lima Declaration on Tax Justice and Human Rights – organizations please sign on

  • evasion fiscal participants

    Participants, International Seminar on Fiscal Justice on June 25th-26th 2015, in Sao Paulo Brazil

    On 25 and 26 June 2015, REBRIP convened a seminar in Sao Paulo on Fiscal Justice. Both INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development) and SANI (South African Network on Inequality), partner networks from the ECSN BRICSAM programme were in attendance and made presentations. The seminar focused on the issue of tax evasion of transnational companies (TNCs), and the ongoing debate within the United Nations on the issue of respect for human rights and the need for a binding treaty agreement on human rights obligations for TNCs. INFID was able to present its cross-country study on tax policies in Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil, during the meeting (see following link to view the full study http://csnbricsam.org/tax-policy-and-inequalitycomparative-study/ ).

    The seminar highlighted that since the economic crisis, between 2008 and 2010, what we have seen in the international scene is an attempt to resume an even tougher liberal agenda.evasion fiscal roundtable

    One central aspect has been the attack on social rights and labour by means of the so-called ¨austerity policies”.  Under the label of austerity, we should read the cutting of public services, salaries and the mechanisms that could facilitate an efficient functioning of the State – but never cuts in payments of remuneration of holders of financial assets (such as public debt), of lendings and handouts to large corporations, or the payment of taxes by large companies and the 1% owner of assets and properties.

    Some key questions were raised at the seminar: why are these same companies that were saved with public funds from more severe crisis, now fleeing from their obligation to pay taxes? Should we accept cuts of rights and social services simply because we have not been able to confront the power of these corporations and will this contribute to aggravating the concentration of income and wealth in the world, in the hands of very few?

    For more on the FULL Program, access International Fiscal Justice Seminar Agenda

     

  • This article was originally posted at: http://news24africa.com/

    I like the story I heard recently from Donald Kaberuka of the African Development Bank, who quoted a Senegalese taxi driver exclaiming: “I can’t eat GDP!” Many ordinary people across the world will recognise this sentiment. A growing economy may be celebrated; but not when the spoils of growth are ever more concentrated into the hands of the richest few.

     

    sudan

    South Sudanese women and Children

    Extreme economic inequality is spiralling out of control across the globe. In January, Oxfam calculated that just 80 people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet. This is manifestly unjust, and it also works against our aim of ending poverty. In many economies where there is strong GDP growth, inequality can undermine the link between growth and poverty reduction. Zambia, for instance, is one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, and yet poverty there has actually risen at the same time.
    A rise in economic inequality is also a serious blow to efforts to achieve gender equality. Studies show that in more economically unequal societies, fewer women complete higher education, fewer women are represented in the legislature, and the pay gap between women and men is wider.
    If governments care about ending poverty they must focus on a two-pronged approach: challenge the system that allows runaway wealth for a handful of people; and devise policies that reduce the inequality gap and increase economic opportunity and prosperity for those in greatest poverty.

    They are often two sides of the same coin. Without progressive and effective taxation, a country is allowing private wealth to amass but also losing an important resource base to tackle poverty. Where free and good quality public healthcare or education is not universal, it stands to reason that those who can pay to be healthy and educated will do better. Without basic social protection, or effective labour laws, people are denied the right to demand fair pay and conditions from their employers (who go on to pay themselves and their shareholders vast sums).

    For decades it has been advocated that we can deal with poverty simply by concentrating on moving those at the bottom up, and helping particular groups, such as women. This is inadequate, and the reason has to do with power: money no longer just buys a nice car, better education or healthcare. Increasingly, it buys impunity from justice, an election, a pliant media or favourable laws. This in turn leads to a perpetuation of policies that allow vast wealth to be accumulated by a small minority, and that increase economic inequality and therefore mean that poverty persists.

    The UN’s draft set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) includes a commitment to tackle economic inequality. It may not be formulated in the most robust way, but it is good news that all governments are on the verge of agreeing that inequality within countries matters and must be addressed.
    How we do this will vary from economy to economy, but we are not short of analysis, examples or ideas to draw on. Professor Nora Lustig and her team at the Commitment to Equity programme are collecting compelling data on the impact of taxation and social spending on inequality. Their research underlines the need for spending on social security, health and education. But it also shows that the way in which the money is raised is vital: progressive, direct taxation does much more to reduce both inequality and poverty than indirect taxes like VAT.
    We must also ensure that tax revenues can be gained from the multinationals and rich individuals who are currently able to avoid paying a fair share. We need to reform global tax rules and Oxfam is very supportive of the call from the G77 countries for a new intergovernmental body on tax, which we hope will be discussed at the Financing for Development Conference in July.
    Brazil is another interesting example, as reducing inequality there relied on more than the impressive Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme; it also required positive government action to make employment pay. Brazil’s minimum wage rose by nearly 50 per cent in real terms between 1995 and 2011, contributing to a parallel decline in poverty and inequality.
    The new SDGs must leave no one behind. We can do this; the tools are there. But to use them we must be prepared to stand up to some powerful interests and voices. My hope for the future is that, when politicians celebrate GDP, this success can be shared by all, and that Kaberuka’s taxi driver will see it lead to more food on his family’s plate.

  • FIRST OFFICIAL CIVIL BRICS FORUM 
    On June 29th – July 1st Moscow hosted the first official Civil BRICS forum in history. This remarkable event took place at the President Hotel accommodating almost 400 members of civil society throughout three days. Over 20 representatives from partner organisations of the “Empowering Civil Society Organisations’ Networks in an Unequal Multi-Polar World” (ECSN) from across Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa took pbrics_2015-250x180art in the Forum, as well as from Oxfam’s Russian office, and many were speakers in multiple panels at the Sustainable Development, Economics and Trade, Healthcare and Peace and Security working groups.
    We are proud to report the breakthrough advocacy achievements as the result of its work:

    Thanks to the remarkable efforts of our team and partners in the Healthcare working group, we managed to include into the final appeal to the BRICS’ countries leaders the recomm
    endations on securing and expanding access to safe and affordable medicines by insuring the full use of flexibilities under TRIPS (the WTO agreement on Trade Realted Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).
    The Sustainable Development working group, co-chaired by Victoria Stetsko of Oxfam’s Moscow office, representing Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) Russia ensured the inclusion of a number of important points on Inequality, New Development Bank, Energy Effeciency and Food Justice. It also headlined the poverty tackling and gender inequality elimination on the agenda.

    POST CIVIL BRICS FORUM EVENT 
    On July 3rd  Oxfam in the Russian Federation in partnership with the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements hosted the Post-Civil BRICS meeting  on the role of the Civil Society in BRICS countries. It brought  together the representatives of the Civil Society Organisations from five countries.
    BRICSSThe open engaging dialogue was maintained with the assistance of the Economic Justice Network  and the South African Network on Inequality (SANI) from South Africa, the Vasudha Foundation and the Third World Network from India, REPRIP from Brazil, the Social Research Institute (SRI) and Oxfam Hong Kong from China, the Consortium of Women’s Non-governmental Associations and the Mossovet from Russia.
    As a result of the meeting participants agreed to further strengthen cooperation between civil society networks in developing common agenda on various topics relevant for BRICS civil societies such as BRICS Development Bank, inequality and sustainable development and access to public services. It was agreed that the networks under the umbrella of ECSNprogramme will further continue to jointly advocate for a participatory and democratic civil society space in BRICS decision-making process.

  • This article was originally posted at http://www.bankonhumanrights.org 

    This week as the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met in Ufa, Russia to launch the New Development Bank, over 40 civil society organizations and social movements from around the world sent an open letter, urging the BRICS to break with the failed development models of the past and ensure that the NDB is truly something new.

    The letter lays out 4 Principles for a New Development Model:
    1) Promote development for all
    2) Be transparent and democratic
    3) Set strong standards and make sure they’re followed
    4) Promote sustainable development.
    To Read the English Version of the letter, Kindly find the attached Document: Four principles to make the New Development Bank truly new

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    This new research from the Empowering CSO Networks in an Unequal Multi-polar World programme focusing on three nations (Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa), looks in depth on how an effective tax policies can be used by governments to tackle the ever widening inequality gap. According to evidence gathered, the report  shows that the revenue performance and collection of all three countries lags far behind compared to that of the developed countries.

    The present study looks in depth at the prevailing tax policy in each country to measure how progressive their tax systems are, using examples of developed countries as a benchmark for comparison. It further investigates the composition of revenues by type of tax in order to indicate whether a state has a progressive tax system in place and whether all segments of society are being taxed equitably.

    Further, it examines levels of tax avoidance and tax evasion in the countries concerned and examples of the most frequently employed tax avoidance schemes.The paper then evaluates the extent to which developing countries benefit from global  initiatives to combat harmful tax practices and whether such initiatives allow these countries to expand their tax bases while also maintaining a competitive investment climate.

    Finally, based on this analysis, the paper draws conclusions and attempts to formulate recommendations on taxation for these three emerging economies, in the context of both domestic policy and global participation, that would help them to reduce inequality while achieving sustainable growth and prosperity.

    To read the full report, please visit Tax Policy and Inequality Report

  • Guest blog post by Pooja Parvati | Research Manager, Oxfam India
    “Let me tell you how it will be
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman   
    Should five per cent appear too small
    Be thankful I don’t take it all
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman…”  
    taxman

    These are lyrics from the Beatles’ 1966 hit song ‘Taxman’ in the album ‘Revolver’. Urban legend has it that George Harrison was so miffed with the high rate of progressive taxes levied by the British Labour government that he penned this song. Within just two years of forming their band, their earnings placed them in the top tax bracket in the U.K. and made them liable to pay a 95% supertax introduced by the government. This was later abolished in 1973. Let me confess that while I love their songs, the Beatles are not particularly topping the charts when it comes to promoting tax justice.

    Why so? Progressive taxation is a means to promote tax justice. It implies a system where tax rates increase as taxable amount increases. While these mostly apply to personal incomes, it can also apply to other kinds of tax adjustments by using tax exemptions, tax credits, or selective taxation. For instance, levying a wealth or property tax, sales tax on luxury goods, or exemption of sales taxes on basic necessities, also create progressive effects by increasing the tax burden of higher income families and reducing it on lower income families. The much-feted French economist Thomas Piketty has also written how decreased progressivity in taxes increased income inequality in countries like the U.S.A.

    A simple measure of progressivity in taxation is the proportion of tax revenue to a country’s GDP (also known as tax-GDP ratio). Let’s look at how some of the emerging economies fare: over a ten-year period (2002 to 2012), Brazil registers an increase in its tax-GDP ratio from 30.1 to 33.7. South Africa (from 27.4 to 28.2) and China (from 16.8 to 24.4) also record increases for the same period. While India also shows an increase from 13.4 to 17.9, this is much lower than the others. It is worth noting that, as per the latest Union Budget 2015-16, tax revenue foregone on account of tax exemptions in India was to the tune of 5% of GDP.

    The all-time hit song is also striking as it reveals how, in less than 50 years, the role of the government world over has changed dramatically. From governments that took the onus to provide for quality, basic essential services to all (that included quality healthcare and education, and in some cases, social security), we now see a shift wherein governments act more as a ‘facilitator’. Financing for developmental priorities is no longer only for the government to care for; there are newer actors who now determine how much is to be spent and what are the priorities.

    This began eighteen years ago (in 1997), when the UN General Assembly adopted the Agenda for Development and considered holding an international conference on financing for development (henceforth FFD). Two international conferences (Monterrey, Mexico in 2002 and Doha, Qatar in 2008) and several parallel sessions later, we are edging closer to the third international conference on FFD to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this July (13-16). This conference is also important as it would determine the contours of financing the new set of global goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The second FFD draft Outcome Document of the Addis conference (also known as Addis Accord) has been read and re-read by countries at the third drafting session at the UN that concluded on June 25, 2015. Beginning with the Monterrey Consensus of 2002 and reaffirmed in the Doha Declaration in 2008 held in the midst of the global economic crisis, there has been a continued push to promote private sector and other private flows.

    The text of the draft FFD Outcome Document (the 3rd conference) brings this ‘push to shove’, as it clearly roots for private finance and, to quote the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, “strips out all reference to specific innovative taxes such as aviation, maritime and finance. If that were not bad enough, proposals to explore innovative mechanisms based on PPP models through market mechanisms and trading systems are encouraged. If ever an example of corporatization of the development agenda were needed, it is here as we see public financing having been completely replaced.” The final draft of the FFD Document freshly-released on June 26, 2015 retains all these proposals.

    Social Watch also notes a move towards endorsing the UN Intergovernmental Committee on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF) report, which is viewed by several countries as leaning too heavily on private sector financing, blended finance and partnerships without adequate accountability mechanisms and governance measures.

    A concern shared by many developing countries is that the aid commitments made by the developed North have not been realized. Instead of pushing developed countries to commit 0.7% of official development assistance (ODA) as a proportion of their Gross National Product (GNP), the shift is to bring in newer players with bigger purses who also want a say in determining policy priority. The 0.75% target that was first proposed by the Nobel-winning Dutch economist Jan Tinbergen in 1972 and later endorsed by the 2005 G8 Gleneagles Summit now finds mention in just one para (para 51) of the 135 paras of the final draft of the Addis Accord.

    If governments globally begin ‘facilitating’ private money lenders, who will regulate these lenders and safeguard the interests of citizens, the majority of who survive on less than a dollar a day? Over 100 networks and CSOs have endorsed the Lima Declaration on Tax Justice and Human Rights in the run-up to the Addis Summit. These and many such initiatives demand that tax justice underlie financing of the SDGs. Oxfam, along with our allies, also joins this call and demands for tax justice to fight inequality.

  • Blog post by Oommen C. Kurian | Research Coordinator, Oxfam India
    Photo credit: Srikant Kolari 

    Sharelines

     India lost half a trillion dollars in illicit outflows in 10yrs. This money can be used to improve public services. Read more  http://bit.ly/1RoL9a7
     @OxfamIndia recommends four crucial points to improve the country’s health systems. Know more. http://bit.ly/1RoL9a7
    According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)developing countries lose $213 billion a year to tax cheating. Recent research covering 1500 MNCs in India showed that those with links to tax havens reported 1.5 % less profit.

    This money could fund free quality public services, vital to fight poverty and inequality by putting virtual money in peoples’ pockets, as Oxfam research has shown- they do the opposite of what user charges do. With the final round of UN Financing for Development negotiations ongoing, these are crucial times to make our tax systems more equitable and efficient – for stronger public services, including healthcare.

    Results of cross-national modelling in 89 low-income and middle-income countries show that each $10 per-capita increase in tax revenue resulted in an additional $1 of public health spending per capita while a $10 increase in GDP per capita resulted in an increase of $0.10.

    Out of pocket (OOP) expenditures push an estimated 60 million Indians into poverty every year. User charges still remain in the public healthcare delivery system. The overall public spending hovers at about 1% of GDP. Yet, increased health spending in rural India over the last decade is slowly yielding results.

    Unfortunately, there are budget cuts and insurance-based initiatives towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) being proposed that seem extremely worrying.  A recent paper brought out by Oxfam India explores available evidence around financing healthcare for all in India and offers recommendations.

    During 1986-87, about 60% of the hospitalised cases were treated by the government institutions across urban and rural areas. In 2004, it fell to about 40%, reflecting the poor public spending on health[1]. However, the following decade saw focused attention on rural care, and most deliveries across urban and rural areas are now taking place in government hospitals as the following chart shows.

    In a decade which saw government schemes across the country that offered incentives to deliveries in private sector facilities, this is a remarkable result.
     
     Utilisation figures from the eighties are often quoted to argue that the poor prefer the private sector now.  It however ignores the fact that this was a period when the public sector was systematically starved of resources and market principles were introduced into the system. Forgone care due to financial reasons doubled between 1986-87 and 2004, from 15%  in rural and 10%  in urban areas  to 28% and 20% respectively.

    Sharp Spending Cuts in India’s Latest Budget

    The spending cuts by the centre- despite being accompanied by higher revenue share to states – are deeply concerning. The employment guarantee scheme saw a reduction of 3% in real terms.  Allocations to the child nutrition scheme  were cut by half. Total allocations for health was cut by about $ 945 million.

    Budget for government’s mid-day meal scheme  in schools was cut by 41%. The central government argues that cuts will be compensated by a larger allocation to states. The share of taxes to states has indeed increased in an encouraging step of fiscal devolution. However, researchers point out that poorer states who rely more on central support face net losses.

    At the same time, the latest report from Global Financial Integrity found that developing countries lost US$6.6 trillion in illicit financial flows in the last decade.  India was among the top five countries in the world with almost half a trillion dollars in illicit outflows.  Just to compare, India’s annual central outlay on health and rural housing put together is $ 5445 million.

    India’s tax to GDP ratio is among the lowest of all G20 countries, just above Mexico and Indonesia, and far below other BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries. In addition, national aggregate amount of revenue foregone due to exemptions by the central government is estimated to be 43.2 % of total tax revenue for the year 2014-15, or nearly 5% of India’s GDP.

    This shows that there indeed are alternative sources that can be tapped in order to generate more resources for health. Moreover, the bigger question seems to be how these new alternative funds will be spent— will it be through an expansion of the public sector, or through an insurance-based, private sector dependant platform?

    The situation seems grim: it is puzzling that policy advice that although flies in the face of evidence still carries weight within the government. Prof Arvind Panagariya, the Vice Chairperson of Niti Aayog –a  think tank which just replaced  India’s Planning Commission- suggests the following in a recent book:
    ¨Turning to medical service delivery, we recommend that rather than further expand the provision of free primary, secondary, and tertiary health care services in the public sector, the government must focus on providing financial resources to the poor for routine and non-routine care… Even so, if the government must insist on the provision of the services, it must do so on the full cost recovery basis.¨
    It is highly disappointing that India’s policy elite refuses to learn from India’s own or the global  experience about the disastrous effects of user charges on peoples’ lives.  Echoing the Vice Chairperson’s viewpoint, Niti Aayog’s latest Working Paper on financing healthcare veers dangerously towards insurance-based solutions, Corporate Social Responsibility, and PPPs.

    Thankfully, despite the clear focus on insurance based, demand-side financing measures incentivising access to private providers, rural public health infrastructure has been silently improving in the last decade, with remarkably positive results.

    It is important to keep the momentum going, rather than allow the inadequate model of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) to become the foundation for India’s progress towards UHC. Oxfam India’s papermakes the following recommendations for the country’s health system:

    Government should be the primary provider of healthcare, and provision of healthcare for all should not be based on expansion of health insurance-based models focusing on hospitalisation.
    A clear roadmap to enhance budgetary spending on healthcare to 3%-5% of GDP should be drawn. Public tax-based funding and contribution from the organised sector should finance healthcare and focused funding in the form of specific central transfers should be made to promote equitable access.
     Regulation of the private sector must be a priority. Establishment of standard treatment protocols and empowerment of communities to hold the healthcare system accountable will be critical to ensure quality of healthcare in the public and private sectors.
     A comprehensive review of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and other currently fragmented government funded healthcare schemes like Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) should be conducted with the aim of future consolidation for a national programme ensuring healthcare for all.

    _____________________________________________
    [1] Still, 60% of all people from the bottom 20% were getting hospitalised in the public sector in 2004.

    To Read Oommen´s Full Paper, kindly access : Financing Healthcare for all in India

  • Most of the time we all ask this question: “What can I do about the poverty and inequality I see around me?” Poverty and Inequality around me This short video by SANI aims at address this question and more. Even though the government has the biggest responsibility in addressing inequality in a nation, the video will help us understand how we, as individuals, can influence the policy decisions by governments and make a difference. According to the 2013 Income and Expenditure Survey, South Africa is one of the most Unequal societies in the world with a Gini Co-efficient of 0.7 (the measure is specific to Income Inequality) Through active citizenry and constantly holding governments accountable, ordinary citizens can contributes to the eradication of inequality. Empowering both the ordinary citizens and/or Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to effect change ground up is the key Among other key international influencing moments, SANI and ECSN program have identified BRICS and the forums to conduct evidence based advocacy for the eradication of inequality The video identifies areas where CSOs can apply pressure effectively and influence policy decisions both in South Africa and BRICAM nations

    Formal Power- For example in South Africa citizens and CSOs can influence policymakers through Parliament and direct engagement with ministers (invited spaces) eg integrated development planning meetings
    International power- eg donor countries or countries trading with South Africa can influence policy decisions. CSOs can influence governments in international forums
    Informal Power-Citizens are the most important part of this power because they are directly affected by the policies and understand inequality hardships. Organized citizens are able to influence decisions and are able to achieve favourable policies

    The New BRICS Development Bank has been highlighted to show how active citizenry can ensure that CSOs can influence the international fora to reduce inequality. It highlights both the opportunities and risks the new bank has in realizing a transformative developmental agenda within the BRICS states So how can CSOs ensure that opportunities associated with this bank are maximized and risks mitigated?

    With South Africa hosting the African Regional Centre for the New BRICS Bank -CSOs have direct chance to influence policy makers to actively invest in infrastructure both in SA and Africa at large in order to address inequality
    CSOs can use Insider-Outsider advocacy strategy to address inequality in BRICS nations. With Insider being (working with governments to influence policies) and Outsider being (to mobilize ordinary citizens and CBOs to influence governments outside of government structures)

    More on SANI, ECSN, BRICS and The New BRICS Development Bank and how active citizenry plays a part in fighting inequality:-

    Watch the Full Video: SANI-Promoting Active Citizenry to Fight Inequality in the BRICS

     
    To learn more on The South African Network on Inequality (SANI)  kindly visit their Website at http://www.sainequality.com

  • Blog post by  Kevin May| Manager  Oxfam’s China and the Developing World Programme

    This article was originally posted at: http://m.english.caixin.com/m/2015-06-04/100816139.html

    ¨Chinese investors should consider land rights, the involvement of rural communities and transparency issues when setting up agricultural programs abroad.¨

    Leaders of the G7 will soon meet in Germany to discuss issues of common interest in economic and foreign policy. This year, as in 2009 and 2012, agriculture and food security will be a significant item on the agenda. This is thus an opportune moment to look back at previous G7-led initiatives in this area and see how China can learn from these lessons.

    Investment in foreign farmland is growing. A large amount of this finance still flows between richer, industrialized countries, but investment in land for agriculture in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Europe is becoming a trend. China is an increasingly important part of this mix. In 2013, its foreign investment in agriculture reached US$ 7.2 billion, about 20 times more than a decade ago. So what can China learn from the G7 when designing its own investment plans?

    Unfortunately, the G7 is littered with failed examples of agricultural development programs. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in 2012, is a case in point. The New Alliance, and other public-private partnerships that use public money to support private sector actors, aims to increase food production in African countries. Through the use of policy incentives and by clustering agri-business in arable areas, New Alliance members hope to improve productivity and create jobs through new plantations and smallholder outgrower schemes.

    However, schemes of this type are fraught with risks for local communities. Land transfers to large investors, which are a core part of the New Alliance’s agenda, raise a number of concerns. In target countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Burkina Faso, governments are offering to lease “idle” or “underutilized” land to large investors. State control over land means that investors’ interests might override those of local communities. Weak tenure rights leave rural communities vulnerable to dispossession, while compensation for removal from land is often inadequate or opaque.

    Moreover, the opportunity for small-scale farmers to partake in and benefit from the creation of plantation-style agriculture is likely to bypass the poorest, which will only worsen inequality. In Burkina Faso, some local companies have noted difficulties in gaining funding from the New Alliance due to the relatively small investment plans and amount of capital required.

    In addition, farmers often take on large debts to enter outgrower schemes, leading to increased risk and uncertainty. Women, who make up the majority of small-scale producers in Africa, are also unlikely to benefit because they prioritize local food crops – such as fruit and vegetables – rather than the stable commodity crops that are attractive to investors.

    The New Alliance has been strongly criticized by civil society groups as being wasteful, not involving the people it purports to support and ineffective in improving food security. So, what does this mean for China and Chinese investors? How can they avoid these pitfalls and create a win-win situation?

    First, land rights matter. Chinese investors should clearly understand existing land use rights before undertaking an investment. In addition, land investments should not take place unless investors and the government have gained explicit free, prior and informed consent from local communities. This will remove the potential risks involved for both investors and communities, and build trust between both parties.

    Also, the involvement of local communities and small-scale producers in setting the vision and design of the investment remains vital. Experience from the New Alliance shows that any program designed by governments and investors with little participation from those that it claims to support can result in active opposition. Involving small-scale producers and other rural communities during the planning stages is likely to lead to greater benefit for all involved.

    Finally, the Chinese government should also proactively support poor countries with which it forms food security partnerships to promote transparency and accountability. This will ensure that the partnerships benefit the poor, especially for those in countries with weak governance and institutional capacities.

    While there is growing enthusiasm for investing overseas in China, it is abundantly clear that such investments do not have to end up in win-lose – or ultimately lose-lose – situations. By taking more proactive steps that are inclusive and well-informed, the Chinese government and investors can avoid the mistakes the G7 made, and make their cooperation with other countries truly welcome and mutually beneficial for all involved.

  • Blog post by  Oleg Kucheryavenko | Coordinator for Health Policy and Advocacy, Oxfam GB / Global Call to Action against Poverty.

    This article was originally posted at http://neravenstvo.com/?p=1308&lang=en

    Recently, there have been shortages of some medicines in the BRICS countries. HIV patients can’t get the drugs they desperately need. Why not? The reason this occurs is that pharmaceutical regulatory bodies have been co-opted by the drug industry.This has been dubbed “regulatory capture”.

    High degree of regulation is a risk in the pharmaceutical market. Studies on other government sectors indicate that the prevalence of corruption increases when there is a big role for the government. Possible grey areas emerge when pharmaceutical companies aim to influence procurement processes, positive listing, government policies and actual medicine prescription through lobbying and marketing. In 2012 Glaxo to resolve allegations of marketing widely used prescription drugs for unapproved treatments and using kickbacks to promote sales.

    A general unwillingness to license third parties to manufacture generics, as the companies seek to recoup their development costs, creates monopoly pricing. The demand for regulation that benefits the industry is clear. Regulatory capturehas become apparent in recent years in negotiations concerning intellectual property regulation in TRIPS and free trade agreements.

    Domestic process in the BRICS has allowed patent owners to exert undue influence on the regulation of pharmaceutical patents, creating a problem of regulatory capture at the national level. It is well-established that when faced with the HIV epidemic and the needs arising from the combat against this deadly infection, TRIPS has in many ways been used by the multinationalsto erect an array of barriers undermining attempts by state actors to develop policies and campaigns based on generic antiretroviral treatment. What would be the real price for a generic drug if it were available? Production costs on generics allow for significantly lower treatment prices, plunging from $10,000 to $350 in recent years, which is almost a dollar a day.

    In industrialized countries, multinationals are already the gatekeepers for life-saving medicines. The civil society organizations and public health advocates from the Global South are leading an immensely unequal fight against “big pharma” seeking to envelop nascent health care markets. I say ‘unequal’ because the power of the wealthy elite has a significant impact on aspects such as decision-making of policymakers, the capture of research, communication and the media, and even curtailing professional autonomy of health care providers.

    The effect of the capture, that we already have a chance to face, is devastating—stripping the governments and people without health insurance coverage and taking full control over the pricing policy. The mechanisms by which multinational corporations pursue the power are surely off the public radar and yet to be discovered, though it is understandable that the prevailing mechanism of capture is through setting up a monopoly or oligopoly and lobbying governments. Roll Call reported a million-dollar boost in spending on lobbying federal government by top 5 pharmaceuticals.

    The key issuethat is missing from the equation in the current debates is who is going to pay for the best available medicines. The health crisis of the 2000s is a financial crisis, in which countries face soaring healthcare costs, and to keep costs low, a variety of payment and reimbursement methods have been created in addition to pharmaceutical price controls. Still, efforts to curb the costs and reduce inequality remain inadequate, forcing countries and people to spend more.

    BRICS have adopted different paths to universal health coverage and they began travelling along those paths at different points in time. Government spending on health as a proportion of gross domestic product is relatively low across all countries of the BRICS bloc with out-of-pocket payments accounting for a very large share of total health spending.While public services provide everyone with ‘virtual income’ and fight inequality by putting more in the pockets of the poorest, user fees and private services have the opposite effect. That is why healthcare should be financed by the state, and spending on health has to be increased so that countries are able to subsidize healthcare for the poor sufficiently.

    My hope is that a truly global health system would invert that profit structure and move a health sector back into the control of the public trust. One day there will be the tipping point. “United we stand,” civil society representatives from the BRICS are gaining power to finally stand up and speak out in the global fora, like Civil 20 and the BRICS Summit. Despite efforts to improve drug regulation at national and international levels, drug regulation remains weak or non-existent in developing countries. The idea of medicine as a public good is eclipsed by the commodification of health itself. Under the regulatory capture of the health sector, the low-income patients in the Global South—those who pay their life savings to combat HIV or cancer—are priced out of a market that glories in shameless capitalism.

    For more information, please access HERE

  • Blog post by  Daria Ukhova | Oxfam Inequality Researcher

    This article was originally posted at http://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/

    In May this year, OECD launched a new flagship report on inequality In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All  which mainly highlights the key areas where inequalities are created and where new policies are required.  Launching of  this report was an important landmark in the development of the inequality debate closely monitored by Oxfam and other entities.

    In this article, Daria captures a  summary of the main arguments presented in this overall report drawing attention to the one chapter in this report that analyses income inequality and redistribution policies in seven emerging economies (Brazil,Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico among them)

    The article further summarizes how the new report has establish links between Inequality, economic growth, and poverty. In addition the writer also  notes how this new report explains the  interrelation of  the different types of horizontal inequality (like ethnic, racial, etc.) and how they affect current trends of vertical economic inequality.

    To Read Daria´s full article kindly access HERE

     

  • As a coalition of civil society networks from across the BRICS, our aim is to ensure the voices of poor and marginalized people in our countries are taken into account in global policy-making processes. We encourage others—leaders and governments from BRICS nations, businesses, and think tanks—to join us in taking a stand on the issue of inequality and the negative impact it has on society.

    Inequality locks a large part of the world´s population into poverty and poor health. As economic disparities grow across the globe, and especially within the world´s emerging economies, the richest 20% of people have seen health indicators and life expectancy rise significantly, whilst amongst the poorest 20%, the same indicators have stagnated. As a result, we are witnessing millions of preventable deaths and illnesses every year, particularly amongst most marginalised groups such as women, rural communities, ethnic minorities, LGBT people and the poorest sectors of society. It is unacceptable to leave such groups behind given the level of economic growth that our countries have witnessed.

    With the establishment of a new set of global development goals just round the corner, we support BRICS governments to ensure we identify who is being left behind due to the vast inequality that exists in our countries, and to put in place measures to ensure equal access to health. In particular, we believe that three key aspects need to be addressed.

    To read the full Position Paper, please follow the following link CSOs Position to BRICS Health Ministers

    To read our Report on Health Spending and Inequality in Emerging Economies, please follow this link Health Spending and Inequality Report

     

     

     

  • The Workshop held on the 19th May 2015 by the Public Policy Department of the Social Sciences Faculty, National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) with the support of Oxfam under the EU […]

  • Health pic

    New research from the Empowering CSO Networks in an Unequal Multi-polar World programme compares the cases of India, China, Russia and Indonesia in terms of levels and structures of health spending, and the impact on inequality in each of these countries. The report finds that in order to reduce inequality and improve the overall quality of healthcare there is a need to increase public healthcare spending. The research finds clear evidence to show a relationship between increased public provision of healthcare and publically-funded national health insurance programmes, and an overall reduction in inequality.

    Nevertheless, not all of these four countries are adopting the same path to increase healthcare coverage, and as such the impact on inequality has been mixed. Furthermore, the research highlights a number of ongoing challenges, and suggests that even with political willpower and support to increase public health spending, the detail of how this spending is channelled and monitored is vital in terms of having a positive effect on inequality. Ensuring effective policy implementation, infrastructure upgrading, regulation of hospital and healthcare practices and overall capacity building and outreach to people living in poverty and to women are some of the areas that need to be focused on

    To read the full report, please visit Health Spending and Inequality E Gomez

    Report by: Eduardo J. Gómez

  • Blog post by Seth Cook (seth.cook@iied.org)  | Senior Researcher in IIED’s China and Agroecology Teams

    This article was originally posted at http://www.iied.org/

    China´s food production processes are facing major environmental challenges that are not only specific to china alone but the world at large. In this article the writer notes that, by China adopting sustainable agricultural practices it would gain a lot in terms of improving public health and above all environmental effects it is currently facing.

    Several operational models are highlighted and explained  on how they could help promote sustainable agricultural practices in China   For a more detailed analysis, read the whole article HERE

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