The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.
- International capital flows are now more than 60 times the value of trade flows. The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) is now of the view that large international financial transactions do not facilitate trade, and that excessive financial âelasticityâ was the cause of recent financial crises.
Illicit financial flows involve financial movements from one country to another, especially when funds are illegally earned, transferred, and/or utilized. Some examples include:
â¢ A cartel using trade-based money laundering techniques to mix legal money, say from the sale of used cars, with illegal money, e.g., from drug sales;
â¢ An importer using trade mis-invoicing to evade customs duties, VAT, or income taxes;
â¢ A corrupt public official or family members using an anonymous shell company to transfer dirty money to bank accounts elsewhere;
â¢ An illegal trafficker carrying cash across the border and depositing it in a foreign bank; or
â¢ A terrorist financier wiring money to an operative abroad.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Credit: FAO
Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimated that in 2013, US$1.1 trillion left developing countries in illicit financial outflows. Its methodology is considered to be quite conservative, as it does not pick up movements of bulk cash, mispricing of services, or most money laundering.
Beyond the direct economic impact of such massive haemorrhage, illicit financial flows hurt government revenues and society at large. They also facilitate transnational organized crime, foster corruption, undermine governance and decrease tax revenues.
Where Does The Money Flow To?
Most illicit financial outflows from developing countries ultimately end up in banks in countries like the US and the UK, as well as in tax havens like Switzerland, the Cayman Islands or Singapore. GFI estimates that about 45 per cent of illicit flows end up in offshore financial centres and 55 per cent in developed countries. University of California, Berkeley Professor Gabriel Zucman has estimated that 6 to 8 per cent of global wealth is offshore, mostly not reported to tax authorities.
GFIâs December 2015 report found that developing and emerging economies had lost US$7.8 trillion in illicit financial flows over the ten-year period of 2004-2013, with illicit outflows increasing by an average of 6.5 per cent yearly. Over the decade, an average of 83.4 per cent of illicit financial outï¬ows were due to fraudulent trade mis-invoicing, involving intentional misreporting by transnational companies of the value, quantity or composition of goods on customs declaration forms and invoices, usually for tax evasion. Illicit capital outflows often involve tax evasion, crime, corruption and other illicit activities.
How Low Can You Go?
In the 1960s, there was a popular dance called the âlimbo rockâ, with the winner leaning back as much as possible to get under the bar. Many of todayâs financial centres are involved in a similar game to attract customers by offering low tax rates and banking secrecy. This has, in turn, forced many governments to lower direct taxes not only on income, but also on wealth. From the early 1980s, this was dignified by US President Ronald Reaganâs embrace of Professor Arthur Lafferâs curve which claimed higher savings, investments and growth with less taxes.
With the decline of government revenue from direct taxes, especially income tax, many governments were forced to cut spending, often by reducing public services, raising user-fees and privatizing state-owned enterprises. Beyond a point, there was little room left for further cuts, and governments had to raise revenue. This typically came from indirect taxes, especially on consumption, as trade taxes were discouraged to promote trade liberalization. Many countries have since adopted value added taxation (VAT), long promoted, in recent decades, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others as the superior form of taxation: after all, once the system is in place, raising rates is relatively easy.
Bags of maize at the Food Reserve Agency Depot in Kasiya, Pemba district, Southern Zambia. Credit: Friday Phiri/IPS
- âNo Farmer, No Foodâ is an old slogan that the Zambia National Farmersâ Union still uses. Some people consider it a clichÃ©, but it could be regaining its place in history as agriculture is increasingly seen as the answer to a wide range of the worldâs critical needs such as nutrition, sustainable jobs and income for the rural poor.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agricultural investment is one of the most important and effective strategies for economic growth and poverty reduction in rural areas where the majority of the worldâs poor live. Available data indicates that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating in other sectors.
Armed with this evidence, the worldâs development trajectory is focusing on how the sector can boost the fight against hunger and extreme povertyâtwo of the major obstacles to achieving sustainable development. And the upcoming 6th World Farmersâ Organisation General Assembly slated for May 4-7 in Zambia is set to be dominated by, among other things, agricultural investment and market linkages.
Under the theme ‘Partnerships for Growth’, the conference is poised to deliberate on ways to encourage farmer-centered partnerships and investments aimed at improving the economic environment and livelihood of this group of producers, most of whom live in rural areas.
FAO estimates that an additional investment of 83 billion dollars will be needed annually to close the gap between what low- and middle-income countries have invested each year over the last decade and what is needed by 2050.
But for developing countries like Zambia, where would this kind of investment come from?
Evelyn Nguleka, president of the Zambia National Farmersâ Union (ZNFU), believes hosting this yearâs event is an opportunity for Zambia to market itself as a preferred agricultural investment destination.
âWe have the land, water, human resource and good climate which supports the growing of all kinds of agricultural produce,â Dr. Nguleka told IPS. She added that the hosting of the WFO General Assembly comes at a crucial time for Zambia, which has suffered one of the worst droughts induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon sweeping across Southern Africa.
âIt is a critical point in our agricultural development that we should use the gathering to solicit for ideas and investments to improve the agricultural value chain as government sets agriculture as the mainstay of the economy,â said the ZNFU president, who is also the current World Farmersâ Organisation (WFO) president.
The Agency Headquarters Hospital (AHH) in Bajaur Agency, shortly after a Taliban suicide bomb attack in 2013. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS
- Hospitals, health care workers and patients in war zones are supposed to be protected under international humanitarian law yet recent attacks from Syria to Afghanistan suggest that they have become targets.
The seeming lack of respect for the sanctity of health care in war zones has prompted UN Security Council members in New York to consider a new resolution designed to find new ways to halt these attacks.
The Security Council is expected to vote on the resolution on May 3, just days after Al Quds HospitalÂ in Aleppo, Syria was bombed.Â Twenty seven staff and patients were killed in theÂ airstrikeÂ on the hospital on WednesdayÂ night,Â Dr Hatem, the director of the Childrenâs Hospital in Aleppo told The Syria Campaign.
Among the victims was Dr Muhammad Waseem Maaz, who Dr Hatem described as âthe cityâs most qualified paediatrician.â
Raped, they drown in humiliation while seeking punishment to culprits
- The dead do not feel anything, but those who survive do. The horrendous experience of the insensitive two-finger test after rape. The courtroom insults during trial because a draconian law permits the accused to question the victim’s character. The families suffer no less humiliation as they wait for justice. While nations around the world have overhauled relevant laws with provisions that shield the rape victims, ours still favour the offender instead. Isn’t it time we were a little more sensitive towards the victims of a crime now regarded as a crime against society? In the wake of Tonu murder after suspected rape, The Daily Star tries to shed some light on all these aspects.
Today, the first two instalments of a three-part series.
Her dark-circled, deep-set eyes gave her a hollow look. The eyes were full of fear and mistrust.
The girl gave sideways glances as she hesitantly walked into the office of the One-stop-Crisis Centre (OCC) at Dhaka Medical College Hospital last month. She looked afraid, and when she noticed a man sitting in the room, she immediately cringed.
She is a rape victim.
For about a week after her rescue, she hardly spoke, OCC officials recall.
Her trauma and fear is shared by another rape survivor, a married woman, who was rescued from a sex racket in India last year.
“It’s not easy to tell even your closest family members what has happened to you,” the woman told The Daily Star recently. Humiliation and shame initially prevented her from telling her husband about the sexual assault when he found her in a shelter home in India months after her rescue. Her husband later came to know about it from others.
But Joya (not her real name), a teen girl, did not need to tell anyone anything. When she was found lying unconscious beside a road by her cousin four years ago, the marks on her body said it all.
“My cousin took me to a hospital. I hardly remember anything as my mind was all confused,” she told this correspondent recently by telephone from a shelter home run by Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA).
An unidentified man struggles to bring his frail cow back on its feet in Chipinge, a district in Zimbabwe's Manicaland province. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS
- Emaciated and with their ribs jutting out, Evans Sinyoroâs cattle lie on the ground overlooking a dry patch of land while the small earth dam nearby is also dry, thanks to the El Nino-induced drought wreaking havoc across Zimbabwe.
El NiÃ±o is a complex weather pattern resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.
A journalist from Radio Bundelkhand in India conducts an interview. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS
- For women journalists,Â violence and intimidation don’t just happen inÂ conflict zones, they are every day experiences.
âYou donât even have to be in a conflict zone to be violated anymore,âÂ New York Times reporter and author of the Taliban Shuffle Kim Barker said Wednesday at the launch of a new book documentingÂ the daily violence and harassment which women journalists experience.
The pastoralists of Ethiopiaâs Somali region are forced to move constantly in search of pasture and watering holes for their animals. Credit: William Lloyd-George/IPS
- TenÂ presidents and prime ministers from around the worldÂ will work together to resolve the growingÂ globalÂ water crisis amid warnings that the worldÂ may face a 40 percent shortfall in water availability by 2030.
The figures continue to be staggering:Â despite improvements, at least 663 million still do not have access to safe drinking water.