The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), its member organizations, its colleagues in the Jubilee South network, and its partners in the international community stand together with the people of Nepal as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes and deal with unimaginable devastation, suffering and loss.
Once again, it has taken a disaster of massive proportions to highlight and remind the world of the intense vulnerabilities that people living in impoverishment and deprivation bear. Nearly 8,000 have died because of the first earthquake alone, and many more are missing, injured, starving and homeless.
One of the Least Developed Countries, Nepal ranks close to the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index, 145th out of 187 countries. The slight improvement from 2014 means that the little gains made have but all been wiped out by the quake. Nepal is one of many countries in Asia where over a billion people are known to be living barely above the extreme poverty line between US$1.25 to US$2.50 a day. Already under several layers of socio-economic deprivations, they are at great risk of regressing into deeper impoverishment than before in the face of catastrophe and crises.
“We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and the rest of the Nepal in these critical moments. We ask governments, international financial institutions, international banks, and other lenders to do the same by immediately, totally, and unconditionally cancelling the country’s debts,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).
Nepal’s finance ministry reported that the country owes a total of almost US$3.5 billion in external debts as of last October. Just above US$3 billion are owed to multilateral banks such as the Asian Development Bank and International Development Association.
“Already a Least Developed Country, Nepal is pushed back at least by a decade in its development efforts by these devastating earthquakes,” said Dr. Sarba Khadka of Rural Reconstruction Nepal, an APMDD member organization, which endorsed the alliance’s statement.
The alliance’s other Nepalese member organizations – mostly rural, human rights, and women’s groups currently providing relief support – supported the call along with movements from other countries.
More than 8,000 people have died and an estimated eight million people have been affected by the first, magnitude-7.8 earthquake which hit Nepal last April 25. A magnitude-7.3 quake followed 2 days ago (May 12), claiming the lives of at least 76 more also in India and Tibet.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (formerly Jubilee South–Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development) is a regional alliance of peoples' movements and organizations, coalitions, and non-governmental organizations.
APMDD’s Nepalese members Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Right to Food Network Nepal, Jagaran Nepal, and Campaign for Climate Justice–Nepal support the call for debt cancellation, along with its Nepal-based networks South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication and LDC [Least Developed Countries] Watch.
The Nepali debt report can be accessed at http://www.fcgo.gov.np/wp-content/uploads/QuarterlyDebtPosition_1st_Quarter_2071-72.pdf
Last September 1-2, 58 participants from social movements, people’s organizations, coalitions, unions and NGOs from different Asian regions formed the Asia Tax Justice Network. The pioneering move was inspired by a commitment to work and promote common advocacies and campaigns on tax and fiscal justice.
The East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia subregions were represented by organizations from Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China and Australia.
JSAPMDD led in organizing the assembly with co-convenors that included Economic Reforms (AER), Bantay Kita, EquityBD, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF),Koalisi Anti-Utang (KAU), Prakarsa Indonesia, Praxis India, Public Services International (PSI) Asia/Pacific, Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization (MSN), Tax Justice Network Australia, Revenue Watch, Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), LDC Watch.
Fiscal policies of governments mainly involve revenues and expenditures. JSAPMDD considers these two main instruments of fiscal policy important for obvious reasons – examining whether governments equitably source funds and whether governments’ public spending of these funds is in keeping with people’s needs. However, though significant work has gone into holding governments to ac-count for their expenditures, there is still much ground to cover in taking governments to task and holding them accountable for the revenue-sourcing aspect of their fiscal policies, specifically taxation.
In many developing countries, transnational corporations (TNCs) enjoy more rights than citizens. This is certainly the case when it comes to taxes. Where development agenda hinge in large part on attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs), governments offer a range of substantial profit-based tax incentives to prospective investors and enter into treaties advantageous to corporations. These have been documented as resulting in huge profits for TNCs on one hand and massive foregone public revenues on the other.