Dominican Republic calls for tax on tax havens to fund UN humanitarian goals

President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernández

23 September 2009 – Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández today called on the United Nations General Assembly to consider a possible tax on tax havens, off-shore banks and international financial centres to make up for the damage the global economic crisis has wrought on efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“The only way to really tackle achieving the MDGs by the scheduled date of 2015 is for this General Assembly to help create the conditions for a real commitment by nations, governmental and non-governmental institutions to assume as a matter of urgency the tasks of economic and social development for peoples stricken by poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy,” he said.

Mr. Fernández called on the Assembly to declare “a state of emergency” in connection with the MDGs, which seek to slash these and a host of other ills, all by 2015, noting that an additional 400,000 children and tens of thousands of women will die each year because of the global financial crisis, according to UN World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

“Just today, while this session of the General Assembly of the most important organization in the world is being held, 25,000 children will die in various parts of the planet,’ he said. “That means that one child dies every three seconds and 18 children every minute. At the end of my 15-minute speech before this plenary, 270 children whose deaths could have been avoided will have died.”

Mr. Fernández called on the 192-member body to consider new possible funding sources for the MDGs, proposing that a working group be set up to present an action plan for his suggested tax on tax havens.

“It cannot be argued that there are not sufficient resources to confront this huge task [of funding the MDGs],” he declared. “The diligent way in which the collapse of the international financial system has been addressed show us something that has always been on the lips of the people, that ‘when there’s a will, there’s a way’...

“There are abundant resources in the world. What is happening is that they are distributed unequally and unjustly, and this is due, among other reason, to the existence of a global financial architecture prone to lack of transparency, secrecy, withholding of capital, evasion and fraud.”

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