Welcome to the IGO Watch Monthly Newsletter for June!

It’s been a busy month for IGOWatch as we spearheaded an international coalition of 39 organizations from 19 countries to oppose a G20 proposal to create an international digital tax! If enacted, this tax grab would hurt businesses, increase costs on consumers, reduce innovation, and seriously harm the world’s economy. 

As Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams said: “Finance ministers must reject calls to further tax online platforms and make life more difficult for billions of citizens using the internet to make their lives easier on a daily basis. The internet must remain an accessible place free of heavy-handed government taxation and regulation.”

You can read a copy of the coalition letter together with our press release here. Our friends at Fundación Bases translated the letter to Spanish (click here). We are looking for more translations of the letter, so please contact IGO Watch if you have a chance to translate the letter.

To learn more about the digital taxation issue, check out this great article by Ross Marchand, Director of policy at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

If you wish to join us and sign the letter on behalf of your organization – it’s still not too late! Please email tim@protectingtaxpayers.org 

We have more exciting updates!

IGO Watch launched an Events Calendar, a new feature on the website which can allow everyone to keep track of all the major events, conferences and sessions from a large number of IGOs worldwide. This will be a simple, easy, convenient way for our members and supporters to stay up to date with what events are occurring where and when to help keep them accountable. And remember, if you or any of your colleagues attend an IGO event please let us know!

 

Bleeding Money

Waste and mismanagement at the United Nations have meant that the giant bureaucracy is slowly but surely running out of funding, forcing the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to desperately try to improve the financial situation of the organization. Here are just some of the examples why an increasing number of countries refused to finance an overgrown and unaccountable bureaucratic system until proper structural reforms take place: 

  • The World Tourism Organization, which describes itself as the “United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism” had nearly 20 percent of the United Nations member states to have either never joined or dropped out. Labeled by Australia as “unresponsive to its needs and increasingly expensive”, there is little perceived downside to not being its member. There are also questions about the accountability and judgment of the WTO, as the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit found the agency “does not possess any internal audit, inspection, evaluation, investigation, or monitoring capabilities.”
  • The UN Sustainable development goals are overly ambitious, too numerous, contradictory and ultimately unachievable. They have the capacity to cause significant harm by weakening the foundation of the free enterprise system. The prevailing, frequently emotional, sentiment at that UN is that the mechanism to achieve the dystopian objective of SDGs would include marshaling the immense resources of the private sector to repair the world, but an attack on prosperity is hardly the best route to achieve sustainable development.
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), designed to have over 90% of work done on the ground in over 130 countries, instead has a massively oversized staff in their Geneva headquarters. This administrative and financial burden had started to influence the organization’s ability to do effective fieldwork, forcing UNHCR to announce the sacking of 146 people from their Geneva HQ, as part of a restructuring program.

 

WHO Will Take Care Of It?

Because of political pressure by African member states, the World Health Organization (WHO) has again come under criticism because of its refusal to declare an international emergency over Congo’s Ebola outbreak despite its spread to Uganda. This is not the first time that the WHO puts thousands of lives at stake because of their inability to adequately respond to a health crisis.

As we could see from the proposed measures for the Philippines, the WHO sees higher excise taxes on tobacco as a “win-win” situation in terms of health and the economy, despite the cost on families and businesses, and the fact that . In reality, smoking rates aren’t likely to go down and the most disadvantageous group of people are the ones who are most affected by the higher taxes. The WHO has adopted a hardline authoritarian stance on tobacco that threatens to do more harm than good, while also recommending the prohibition and restriction of smoking alternatives. We can only expect a continuation of this WHO position, as the EU taxpayers have contributed €102 million for a WHO program which “will pay particular attention to addressing non-communicable diseases”. At the same time, just a few days ago a 71-nation York University studies found absolutely no evidence that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has reduced smoking Australian JCU study finds that plain packaging has been followed by an increase in quantity of tobacco consumed.

 

Buzzword Policy

There hasn’t been a lot of good news for European taxpayer’s this month. As the excise taxes on cigarettes continued to go up in the EU, we have seen a further increase in counterfeit consumption. Higher taxes do not benefit consumers and taxpayers, nor will they reduce smoking rates successfully. While on the topic of taxing frequently used consumer goods and services, a number of EU countries have gotten closer to reaching an agreement on ending tax exemptions on jet fuel and plane tickets, essentially creating a discriminatory flight tax which would hit low-income population, devastate tourism with a potential end to low-cost vacations, and hinder innovation in the aviation industry.

In more positive news, a group of central and eastern European countries blocked a proposal to slash EU carbon emissions to an economically devastating net zero by 2050. After months of using climate change fear-mongering and unrealistic goals by high ranking officials as part of the EU election campaign, it turned out that there is no unified EU position on its climate policy. This comes as no surprise, as a leaked document criticized the EU’s “climate crisis” priorities as offering little more than “a collection of buzzwords”.

Sadly, we are seeing an increased willingness by various EU governments to demand complete censorship everywhere of speech that they do not approve of. A pending ruling by the European Court of Justice may force Facebook and other social media companies to censor content that government officials find offensive or illegal not just in their home country, but around the world.

 

See Something? Say Something!

We’re always looking for regional coordinators from countries around the world to help us distribute information on social media, write blog posts and op-eds, and provide us with on-the-ground information from their region.

If you have any tips about stories, or would like to become a regional coordinator, please send us an email at this address!

Until next month,

IGO Watch Team