By Tim Saunders on
Bill Gates has addressed the G20 Summit in France, urging leaders to protect aid budgets and lending his support to a Robin Hood Tax.
“Leadership from the G20 is critically important, especially in these tough economic times,” he said. “The world will not balance its books by cutting back on aid, but it will do irreparable damage to global stability, to the growth of the global economy and to livelihoods of millions of poor people.”
Gates acknowledged the current economic crisis in Europe, but raised awareness of the importance of equality – that every human life in the world is worth the same, everyone deserves access to healthcare and every life is worth saving – and that a price can’t be put on humanity.
“I don’t want to downplay in any way the importance of this crisis but I do think while we address that crisis we keep in mind the poorest countries,” he said. “I’ll remind people how important this is. How it’s more than just economics, it’s about saving children’s lives.”
His comments for a Robin Hood Tax (also known as a Financial Transaction Tax, in which financial transactions – as well as aviation and shipping fuels and tobacco – are taxed as a way of helping raise aid resources) has garnered support from Oxfam.
“Gates’ timely message is that there will be no lasting global economic recovery without tackling poverty,” said Oxfam spokesperson Luc Lampriere. "He brings much needed impetus and ambition to a Summit nearly paralyzed by Europe’s woes.
“Gates has put development back into the spotlight by showcasing both traditional aid and smart new ideas like a Financial Transation Tax, a charge on shipping emissions and corporate transparency.
“Gates is piling the pressure on rich countries to deliver their aid promises. It is shocking that they are cutting this lifeline to the poorest. And he is specifically pressurizing the Europeans to ensure their Financial Transaction Tax is used to help the poor and the planet. We hope Angela Merkel is listening.
“Gates highlights how aid has driven growth and development over the past 50 years and is just as vital now. Cutting aid today – and not pursuing innovative sources of finance – will undermine global recovery while doing little to balance rich country budgets.
“Gates’ enthusiasm for a Financial Transaction Tax and a carbon charge on shipping and aviation should encourage champions like France, Germany, and Brazil and convince skeptics like Canada, UK and the US. We fully support Gates’ call that the lion’s share of this revenue should flow to fight poverty at home and abroad, and tackle climate change.
“Gates makes a welcome call for G20 countries to endorse legally binding transparency requirements for companies listed on their stock exchanges. Oxfam agrees wholeheartedly, and would add that the G20 must get serious about tax havens, which cost developing countries billions in lost tax revenue.
“G20 leaders must act boldly and swiftly in order to make the reasonable and feasible ideas contained in the Gates report a reality.”
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