Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Wednesday, Aug 31, 2005
Google

International
News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |

International Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

France plans to launch anti-poverty solidarity tax

Jon Henley

Fund is for the global fight, says President Jacques Chirac

PARIS: France plans to launch a ``solidarity tax'' on airline tickets as early as next year to help fund the global fight against poverty, French President Jacques Chirac has said.

Saying he wanted his country to be ``in the forefront'' of efforts to boost aid to Africa, the French President — eager not to be outshone in the aid stakes by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent drive for the continent — said he had asked the Government ``to start the necessary procedures without waiting.''

Support sought

Mr. Chirac, who last month wrote to 145 world leaders seeking their support for the scheme, said in a speech to the annual meeting of France's Ambassadors in Paris that Germany, Algeria, Brazil, Chile and Spain would help promote the idea at a Union Nations summit in September.

An international ministerial conference on the theme will be held in Paris next February, he added.

Last January, when the French President formally floated the scheme at the World Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said a tax of just a few dollars on every airline ticket sold could raise up to $10 billion a year to finance campaigns against diseases in Africa, notably AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Group of Eight rich nations promised last June that it would look into the project, but some countries are keener than others.

A number of E.U. member states, including Greece and Ireland, reject the idea, while the U.S. has said it is not in favour but will not stand in the way of other countries.

Britain, which is pressing hard for an international finance facility, a means of doubling aid flows by floating bonds on financial markets, initially responded coolly to Mr. Chirac's airline tax plan this year but has since stressed that the two schemes are not mutually exclusive.

Promising solution

France's Finance Minister, Thierry Breton, outlined the solidarity tax to a U.N. meeting in June, saying that, with world air traffic growing at an average 9 per cent every year since 1960, it was ``one of the most promising solutions for developing countries and for the international architecture of aid''.

Mr. Breton said airline tickets were an appropriate commodity to tax because airlines benefit from globalisation and pay low taxes, their passengers ``are rarely among the poorest citizens'', and such a levy has been proved feasible both practically and legally. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has set the international body the target of halving extreme poverty by 2015, told the Financial Times last month that he supported the airline tax plan and that the idea ``seems to be taking hold''.

Along with several other leaders, Mr. Chirac has repeatedly said budgetary increases alone will not finance the extra $50billion needed to meet the U.N.'s Millennium Development goals on poverty, health and education, and that additional innovative solutions were needed.

French authorities estimate a tax of about euro5 per passenger worldwide, with a euro 20 surcharge for business class travellers, would generate revenues of about euro10 billion a year. The contribution could be reduced in poorer countries so as not to penalise passengers there. —

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



International

News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |

Copyright 2005, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu