Social Justice in Global Development

A “Side Event” during the 51st Session of the UN Commission for Social Development took place on Monday, 11 February 2013 on

Policy Space through Domestic Resource Mobilization - A Key to Empowerment for Social Development        

Speakers were:

Sarah Cook, Director, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD): Bargaining for fiscal space: mobilizing domestic resources for social development. 

See presentation here »»»

Germania Montás: Deputy Director, Dirección General de Impuestos Internos, Dominican Republic: GFDD/FUNGLODE collaborator: Best practices in tax administration to achieve sustained revenue increase for social development.  See presentation here »»»

Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network and SocDevJustice: Mobilizing domestic resources through higher wages and employment. See presentation here »»»

Moderator: Gemma Adaba, Social Justice in Global Development (SocDevJustice)

Discussant: Michael Lennard: Secretary, UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters

See flyer with bios of the speakers here »»»

The 51st Session of the Commission for Social Development was focusing on the theme of people's empowerment as an important foundation for social development through poverty eradication and decent work for all. It is critical to explore the key role that governments need to play in creating an enabling environment for human development, so that people are equipped with the human resource endowments (good health, education, skills, and social protection) to enable them to participate effectively in development, and obtain decent jobs. For the attainment of people's empowerment, government policy choices matter.

In particular, achieving human development requires adequate levels of public expenditure allocated to social development. Huge shortfalls in funding for social development have persistently plagued the budgets of many developing countries over the years, reflecting deficiencies in fiscal and policy space to implement National Development Strategies, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Focusing, for example, on mineral-rich countries, it is clear that many of them have not been able to harness the profits of resource exploitation in support of public budgets for social development. Trillions of dollars are lost to development annually, owing to poor allocations of the proceeds of mineral wealth extraction, tax loopholes and tax concessions and breaks to Multi-National Corporations (MNCs), including in the resource extractive industries, transfer-pricing by MNCs, capital flight, illicit capital flows, weak tax administration and the excessive accumulation of foreign exchange reserves by Central Banks, which has proliferated in recent years as sovereign states try to protect themselves from capital outflows and other kinds of financial instability. There is much scope for improvements in domestic resource mobilization strategies with the aim of ensuring that the necessary policy space is created to finance and sustain long-term investment in social sectors and social development policies.

This Panel Discussion focused on the constraints to effective resource mobilization faced by many developing country governments, and explored how policies can be shaped to ensure equitable domestic resource mobilization and strategic redistribution measures that prioritize financing for health, education, social protection floors, and in support of decent work objectives. By so doing, it aimed to make a contribution to an important sub-theme of the current policy dialogue, that of financing people's empowerment.