From the TUC

Robin Hood Tax: it’s all happening – there’s even a new Bill Nighy film

20 Sep 2011, by in International

Developments in the Robin Hood Tax campaign are now happening daily, so it can be difficult to keep up to date. But the direction of travel is clear – so here’s the latest: the EU is closer than ever to agreement in October; the Financial Times has started exploring how to implement Financial Transaction Taxes (FTTs); the global union family has urged the IMF to abandon its Financial Activity Tax alternative and urge more countries to take part; and Bill Nighy has asked us all to be in his latest Robin Hood Tax video.

For nearly a year and a half, the Robin Hood Tax campaign has been trying to get the Financial Times to give adequate coverage (sometimes, any mention at all) to the campaign for FTTs. We didn’t expect leaders demanding implementation now, but we were surprised at just how little mention there was of the issue, when almost every other national newspaper was covering it – even the Daily Mail and the Sun. As support for the campaign grew in Europe, the European editions of the Financial Times began to cover the story – but often the UK edition would omit those articles. But now, all that has changed. Vince Heaney has produced a detailed, balanced account (£) of some of the key issues that legislators will need to address in implementing an FTT. It sets out some of the criticisms from bodies like the British Bankers’ Association, the European Fund and Asset Management Association and the Investment Management Association, but also explains correctly that most of the criticisms can be answered with careful implementation. He concludes:

“On balance, many of the objections to FTTs could be overcome by careful design.”

Meanwhile, the global union submission to the autumn meetings of the International Financial Institutions (IMF and World Bank) calls for a co-ordinated international strategy for implementing an FTT. Although the issue is not currently on the agenda for the IMF or World Bank meetings in Washington DC later this week, it will be discussed by the G20 Finance and Development Ministers who are meeting jointly in the margins of the IFI gatherings. But the gobal unions have identified one area in which this is a key issue for the IMF; global unions want the IMF to drop its preference for a Financial Activities Tax (which would raise far less than an FTT) and seek to broaden the coalition of governments willing to implement an FTT to improve its effectiveness. As the submission says:

IMF spokespersons have stated that there is no incompatibility between the FTT and the options it prefers and that it would be best to have some form of financial sector taxation than none at all. However its promotion of alternatives that have garnered little support could be counter-productive to the widescale adoption of an FTT. … The IMF’s detailed working papers on the FTT show that such a tax can be successfully applied in one or a few jurisdictions, but that ‘the viability of an FTT would be enhanced by international cooperation’. Given the growing worldwide support for an FTT that would finance job-intensive recovery proigrammes and achievement of devlopment and climate finance goals, the IMF should offer its assistance  for coordinating the effective implementation of an FTT in as many countries as possible.

And last but not least, the Robin  Hood Tax campaign has issued a viral video narrated for the UK by Bill Nighy, and also by well-known voices in seven other languages, designed to encourage supporters to make one last push to get countries to sign up. The viral quality is enhanced by offering people the opportunity to add their own name and photo to the video.