The South East Asian Tax Justice Forum formalised
The aim of the Forum has been agreed as follows:
- effectively conduct capacity building at national and regional levels for Tax Justice advocacy;
- secure policies or measures that will address tax issues with a regional character.
- engage regional institutions such as the ASEAN and the Asian Development Bank in relation to tax justice or tax reform.
- push for the mobilisation of domestic resources as the main vehicle to finance development.
- help linking regional and country efforts to the global campaign.
The central theme was how to tackle inequality between rich and poor in society by tax means, or how to prevent a heavy burden on the poor. (Worth noting is this front page article in the Jakarta Globe, featuring an interview with Prakarsa's Setyo Budiantoro on inequality in Indonesia.) Inequality is a serious problem in the Asian middle income countries. Most participants agreed that a value added tax (VAT) is not the way forward in that regard. However VAT is on many political agendas in South and South East Asia.
The also conference gave an update of the work all participants have been (and are) doing in their home-countries. From assessing Indonesia’s tax optimization (by Prakarsa’s Setyo Budiantoro), tax reforms and collective action (by Filomeno Sta. Ana III of Action for Economic Reforms), tax justice and development in Vietnam (byTchi Bich Diep Nguyen of the Justice Initiatives Facilitation Fund), goods and service tax in Malaysia (by Khalid Jaafar of the Institut Kajian Dasar), tax justice in India (by Rakesh Mittal), tax justice in Nepal (by professor Keshab Raj Khadka of the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication), revenue and health impact of tobacco taxation (by Ulysses Dorotheo of the South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance), negotiating good contracts in the extractive industry (by Roslita Arsyad of the Revenue Watch Institute), tax justice advocacy and campaigning in the Netherlands and the link to the global Tax Justice Network network (by myself), global tax justice movement and campaign (by Frederike Rijkse of SOMO) to global climate flows (by Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South Asia).