Wednesday, January 28, 2009

News from the Tax Justice Council Meeting in Belem, Brazil

28th January 2009

The Tax Justice Network has just held its biennial Council Meeting here in Belem, Brazil, which is currently hosting the World Social Forum.

The Tax Justice Council Meeting is the highest level decision making body of the global network. This is the meeting which elects our global Board of Directors, discusses long and medium term strategy, ratifies new members, and generally shapes the overall direction taken by our regional steering committees and national chapters.

In an upbeat assessment of our progress since the last Council Meeting (Nairobi, Kenya, 2007) Bruno Gurtner, who chairs our global Board, described TJN as a success story. We have played a role in putting tax matters at the heart of the development agenda; we have worked effectively with many development NGOs and persuaded them to engage on tax matters; we have contributed to huge upsurge of media interest in tax evasion, tax competition, wealth distribution and corrupt financial practices; above all we have put tax havens under the spotlight and shown them for what they truly are - engines of financial chaos and centres of corruption.

In 2008 TJN celebrated its fifth anniversary. We are no longer in our pioneer phase: we are established on the world stage, and need to adapt to a new phase of activity in which we broaden our communications to a wider audience and strengthen our capacity to work with a wider variety of partners in new regions of the world, including Latin America and Asia (happily we have just ratified the membership of our first member organisation located in South East Asia - Actions for Economic Reforms, based in the Philippines). We will be posting the full text of Bruno's report to this blog within the next few days.

The first major business item on or agenda this morning was to elect a new global Board and officers. The new Board is made up as follows:

Francois Gobbe (Kairos Europe, Brussels) - re-elected as Treasurer
Ian Goldman (TJN-Canada)
Bruno Gurtner (TJN) - re-elected as Chair of the Board
James Henry (TJN-USA)
David McNair (Christian Aid, UK)
Rachel MoussiƩ (Action Aid International)
Michel Roy (Secours Catholique, France)
Georg Stoll (TJN-De) - elected as Secretary to the International Association
Attiya Waris (Tax Justice 4 Africa)
Francis Weyzig (SOMO, Netherlands)

In addition, it was agreed that representatives from LatinDADD and Actions for Economic Reform, Philippines, will join the Board with observer status.

In a broad tour d'horizon of the current activities of the International Secretariat, our director John Christensen highlighted the research programme into secrecy jurisdictions, the first results of which will be posted to a purpose-built website during the first quarter of 2009. He also told the Council that the research team is on target to publish the first results of the Financial Transparency Index in the last quarter of 2009. The latter is likely to stir the pot in quite a number of European countries and states in the USA. John's report to the Council will be posted to this blog in the coming days.

TJN will be participating in around half a dozen seminars and workshops at the WSF in the coming days and we will keep you posted on how these go. Tax havens and the financial crisis will be a central theme throughout the WSF.


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