ESCAP Committee Highlights Tax Reforms for SDG Financing
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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The ESCAP Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development recommended that ESCAP strengthen its assistance to Member States, especially SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs.

The meeting launched two publications: the 2017 Year-end Update of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, and a joint ESCAP-Oxfam report titled, Taxing for Shared Prosperity.

8 December 2017: A committee of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) recommended strengthening assistance to Member States, especially SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs, while also calling on countries to take an integrated approach towards macroeconomic assessment, poverty reduction policies, and SDG financing. Also at the meeting, ESCAP and Oxfam launched a joint report highlighting the potential for tax policies to tackle rising inequality in countries in the region.

The ESCAP Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 6-8 December 2017. The Committee meets every two years to evaluate ESCAP’s work. Its 2017 session focused on identifying strategies for financing sustainable development.

At the close of the meeting, the Committee highlighted the importance of mobilizing financial resources to invest in reducing poverty and inequality, and achieving the SDGs. The Committee noted demand for “sustainable infrastructure” to be financed at a cost of around US$26 trillion in the next 13 years.

ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar stressed that governments should “fully tap” their tax potential to promote equity and efficient investments. She stressed the need to lift the quality of economic growth, so that it is inclusive, equitable and sustainable. Apisak Tantivorawong, Thailand’s Minister of Finance, said partnerships among governments, businesses and international organizations have the potential to mobilize financing for development.

The 2017 meeting launched two publications: the 2017 Year-end Update of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, and the joint ESCAP-Oxfam report on ‘Taxing for Shared Prosperity.’ The ESCAP-Oxfam report finds that progressive income tax, property tax and wealth taxes can provide public financing to strengthen social security networks. The authors note that tax revenue in several countries remains low. Most countries favor indirect taxes, while personal income tax rates remain low, and property and wealth taxes are largely missing. The report recommends increasing the share of progressive direct taxes (such as income tax) so as to adjust income and wealth distribution, and limiting tax evasion through international and regional cooperation.

The year-end update of the Survey highlights the potential for good governance to enhance tax revenues and improve the quality of public spending. On financing needs for implementation of the SDGs, the authors propose ways to strengthen public finances and leverage private sector financing. [Press Release on Committee Meeting] [ESCAP Event Post for Committee Meeting] [Press Release on ESCAP-Oxfam Report ‘Taxing for Shared Prosperity’] [‘Taxing for Shared Prosperity’] [Year-end Update Webpage] [2017 Year-end Update of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific]

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