Annan backs global tax to help poor

UN chief Kofi Annan has expressed support for a global tax to help the world's poor, but conceded it would face stiff opposition from national governments.

    Annan said fund could be financed by tax on arms sales

    He was referring to a proposal by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is expected to seek Annan's backing for a global fund against hunger when they meet in Geneva on Friday.

    Lula proposed the hunger fund at a G8 summit in France last June, saying it could be financed by a tax on arms sales, or by countries handing back a percentage of debt repayments they receive from poor countries.

    "I would be delighted if we can do that," Annan on Thursday told a news conference in Brussels, when asked if he would favour a global tax.

    "Not only would it be extremely helpful for the kind of work we do, but it will help millions if not billions around the world," he said.
     
    "But I think there's going to be a real struggle. There are governments who see this as taxing their citizens, and believe only they can tax their citizens."

    "But I think there's going to be a real struggle. There are governments who see this as taxing their citizens, and believe only they can tax their citizens"

    Kofi Annan
    UN secretary-general

    Annan noted that the idea was not new, adding: "This is a real challenge. I think we need to explore all creative ways of raising funding for development."

    The UN secretary-general will head to Geneva on Friday - where he will also meet French President Jacques Chirac - on the last leg of a European tour. He arrived in Brussels on Wednesday.

    Malaysia's outspoken former prime minister Mahathir Muhammad has also called for a worldwide tax, targeting multinational companies, saying it would be "morally desirable" to tax the rich to help the poor.

    SOURCE: AFP


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