More than 40 Civil Society Organizations endorsed the letter supporting the draft UN debt resolution currently being negotiated in the UN General Assembly’s Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee).

The global financial crisis has critically exposed the vulnerabilities of a liberalized, privately focused financial system. Governments worldwide intervened in such a system, providing support with an unprecedented range of measures including bailouts, nationalization of distressed financial institutions, mergers and recapitalization. However, many underlying structural conditions that led to the crisis were only partially addressed, if at all. As the past months exposed the worrisome combination of increasingly unsustainable debt levels, financial market volatility and currency instabilities, concerns for the possible eruption of another financial crisis have been on the rise. In the chapter by Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam, with the support of Stefano Prato, there are three key proposals could help preventing the next crisis while providing critical financing to sustainable development: explore the potential of development banks; restore the management of capital accounts within the standard policy toolkit of governments; and introduce a system of financial transaction taxes.

Increasingly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is claiming a role for itself as a central player in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and has positioned itself as an important actor on SDG 10 and tackling inequalities (economic and gender-based). However, in practice this commitment has been patchy at best, with little evidence of any meaningful policy realignment. Drawing on the examples of Egypt and Brazil, Kate Donald and Mahinour El-Badrawi, from CESR, and Grazielle David from the University of Campinas, show how IMF governance has led to deepening of social and economic inequalities, and threats to human rights enjoyment.

Paraguay has a history of “very low government revenue, generalized reluctance to pay taxes in a climate of corruption and strong opposition by enterpreneurs and high income earners to any increase in their fiscal contributions”, reports Decidamos, Campaign for Citizens' Expression.

One of the few tax increases that the public accepts are the taxes on tobacco, as they generate revenue but also address a public health problem. Yet, a proposed law to increase taxes on tobacco to 40 percent was vehemently opposed by the producers and by former president Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who owns the biggest tobacco company in the country.

Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

The official Lebanese VNR report of 2018 blames the Syria crisis for the economic deficits that increased the debt, as well as for economic stagnation, the doubling of unemployment and worsening poverty rates. Yet, according to the alternative civil society report by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), “this exclusively negative narrative about Syrian refugees does not distinguish between the huge impact of the Syrian crisis/war on the economy and political situation in Lebanon, and the diversified impact of the presence of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This latter allowed financial flow of aids to increase, as well as the domestic consumption that produced around 1 -1.5 percent of GDP growth, and provided a cheap labour force that prevented the bankruptcy of many small businesses.”

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