Quezon City, Philippines – Meliana Lumbantoruan, Deputy Director of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia, attended the Global Conference of the Civil Society Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) in Quezon City, Philippines on November 9-11, 2023. The Global Conference aimed to reflect on the tax justice struggle over the past ten years. It will also identify the challenges and recent developments in global and regional campaigns and advocacy from each organization and network participating in the event. The input and experience from each country can be included in the plans, agendas, and strategies for mobilizing and coordinating the struggle for tax justice in the extractive sector and inclusive and effective international tax cooperation, which GATJ can carry out.

GATJ’s work in 2023 will be ten years old. There are many things to celebrate and reflect on to improve the alliance’s advocacy in the future. Civil society from at least ten countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Argentina, and Canada) met for the GATJ 10 Year Global Conference in Quezon City, Philippines.

On the first day, the conference began with a reflection session delivered by Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD); Dr. Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator of GATJ, and Dr. Arjun Karki, Global Coordinator, Least Developed Countries Watch. This activity was followed by a Public Discussion entitled “Taxing Extractives: What’s Fair, and For Whom?“. In this session, representatives from the Philippines, Canada, and Indonesia shared about each country’s taxation cases and what needs to be improved as an advocacy agenda.

The discussion continued in the panel session entitled “Fighting Corporate Tax Abuses and Other Illicit Financial Flows (IFF): Tracing the Local-Global Connections.” Participants from Canada, the Philippines, Argentina, Indonesia, and South Africa shared what each country had done in this session. Many good practices have been carried out in each country.

A representative from PWYP Indonesia, Meliana Lumbantoruan, explicitly conveyed the context of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) in Indonesia and advocacy strategies carried out by civil society in Indonesia to reduce the occurrence of IFF practices in the extractive sector. An exciting thing that becomes a lesson for other countries is the progress of advocacy to integrate Beneficial Ownership data disclosure with tax data. This received quite a response from the discussion participants. The first day of the global conference discussion session was closed with a reflection on the achievements of the last ten years from each country, regionally and globally. Many milestones have been passed and achieved.

The conference’s second day discussed the ‘state of play‘ in pushing for the UN Tax Convention, a long-standing demand of developing countries and the global tax justice community. Speakers specifically outlined what is at the heart of the matter and what is at stake in the ongoing discussions at the UN, particularly for the people and countries of the global south. In addition, the session titled “What’s at Stake in the Fight for a UN Tax Convention?” also provided a lot of historical context at the regional/national level regarding the UN Tax Convention by highlighting what they considered to be the main issues, challenges or opportunities in each country.

Meanwhile, the last day of the conference specifically highlighted the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ), from its history and ongoing advocacy, as well as some ‘urgent issues’ that GATJ and its members should immediately take up and discuss priorities, tasks along with the progress and progress of tax issues at the national, regional and global levels. The third-day session was also filled with a conference with local Philippine media, and the content and demands of the Tax Justice Coalition’s advocacy in Asia were delivered.

Authors: Chitra Regina Apris & Meliana Lumbantoruan
Reviewer: Aryanto Nugroho