Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Vienna 2010: Robin Hood Tax


Robin Hood Rax activists take the stage

At the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, the UN Special Envoy for Innovative Finance called on world leaders to ‘back the bankers tax’ - referring to the IMF’s recommendation to create new taxes on banks - and to “fill the gap”, referring to the 70% gap in people accessing lifesaving medications.

The Alliance welcomes this latest support.  We have been campaigning, along with 100 other organisations, to ensure increased financing for development, and health and HIV in particular, through a levy on currency transactions. This bankers tax is known as the Robin Hood Tax in the UK.

Yesterday, US Congressman Pete Stark, Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee of Ways and Means introduced a bill that would implement a tax on currency trades in order to fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria as well as development needs worldwide. Matthew Kavanagh, Director of US Advocacy for Health GAP, said: ‘As a senior member of the tax-writing committee we are thrilled that he has taken up the push to ensure the devastation caused by the banks in the financial crisis can be turned into an opportunity to save lives.’

Anton Kerr, Head of Policy at the Alliance said: ‘The UK has had a successful financial transaction tax for many years. We congratulate the UK coalition government for moving ahead with a new bank levy from January 2011 that will raise an additional £2bn per year. However, this not ambitious enough - the Robin Hood Tax Campaign is calling for this to be increased to £20 billion per year.’

As the international community seeks to solve the major funding gaps for the Global Fund and in order to deliver the MDGs, people living with HIV and advocates from around the world expressed their excitement that the two largest banking centers in the world are making progress toward a Robin Hood Tax. 

On the eve of the Vienna conference, the Leading Group for Innovative Financing for Development launched its latest feasibility study. This report provides guidance to governments on how to establish a currency transaction tax similar to what the US is exploring, on banks that would initially raise an additional $33bn, for health.

According to UNAIDS’ estimates there were 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide at the end of 2008. In the same year there were nearly 2.7 million new HIV infections and 2 million AIDS-related deaths.  According to the UN 14 million people are in urgent need of HIV treatment, with only 4 million receiving it: that’s a 70% gap in lifesaving medication. 

Photo: On the first full day International AIDS Conference, activists called on Bill Gates to tell world leaders back the bankers tax.

Read more: Debating the future of Global Health

And: Financing the AIDS response - question of efficiency or more money? Comment by Elaine Ireland, Alliance policy officer.

    Back the bankers tax!