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Commentary & Opinion
Financial Transaction Taxes Can Help Alleviate Global Poverty

January 11, 2013

"For the first time since the economic crisis began, the last United Nations General Assembly offered real hope for those that wish to put an end to global poverty," U.N. Under-Secretary General Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of UNITAID, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece. "In his first speech to assembled world leaders, French President Francois Hollande called on countries to 'globalize solidarity' and implement a global Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)," Douste-Blazy writes, noting France has implemented a 0.2 percent FTT that "should raise around $2 billion a year." In addition, "[i]n a groundbreaking move during his General Assembly speech, President Hollande announced that a part of the FTT's revenues will be allocated to development aid," a move that "should be praised," Douste-Blazy says.

"Eleven other European countries have indicated that they will press forward with a FTT," which "could generate over $30 billion a year," Douste-Blazy writes, adding, "Such resources could go a long way in plugging the holes in declining foreign aid." He says UNITAID is "proof that globalization can give back to the global poor through small levies on transactions," and notes "eight out of 10 HIV-positive children have access to life-saving treatment because of UNITAID's intervention in the pediatric HIV market." Douste-Blazy concludes, "European leaders must continue their push for a Europe-wide FTT. Importantly, European leaders must learn from UNITAID's successes and insist that over 50 percent of the proceeds of an FTT are allocated to poverty eradication" (1/10).

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