Civil Society in the Asian region gathered in the 2nd Asian Tax and Fiscal Justice Coalition General Meeting in Khatmandu, Nepal (last August 13-14). The first TAFJA General Assembly was held in 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. The event was attended by participants representing civil society organization with focus on tax advocacy in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia Region.

“Besides to reporting on the results of TAFJA’s activities and advocacy for 2014-2018, this meeting was also held to formulate a joint advocacy program for the next four years,” said Lidy Nacpil, from the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) which is the Co-Coordinator of 2014-2018 period.

Meanwhile, Dereje Alemaheyu from the Global Alliance for Global Justice emphasized that the international tax landscape has changed in recent years, and it will undoubtedly bring its challenges to the Tax and Fiscal Justice Movement. “Tax avoidance schemes carried out by corporations are more aggressive, complex, and parallel with the development of information technology, which makes it difficult to detect tax avoidance schemes.”

“Therefore, civil society in Asia and Global need to cooperate, collaborate, and exchange knowledge to encourage and ensure that tax authorities in each country can do monitoring and prevent the tax avoidance practice by the corporation, and ensure the basic rights of communities in each country fulfilled through optimizing the state revenue through taxes,” said Dereje.

In the 2-day meeting, several of TAFJA members also shared their knowledge and experience related to research as well as advocacy in tax issue that have been done so far. Some of the issues raised were: tax and fiscal justice and labor rights, tax justice, women’s right, and gender justice, also tax justice in the extractive industry.

PWYP Indonesia, represented by the Program Manager Meliana Lumbantoruan and Nurkholis Hidayat from Lokataru Foundation, also had opportunity to share some main findings from the studies that carried out related to tax avoidance practices and aggressive tax planning by the four (4) largest coal companies in Indonesia.

“We realized that the tax avoidance practices carried out by the corporations is also caused by a large number of loopholes in the national tax policy in Indonesia which are ultimately used by corporations to perpetuate their tax avoidance,” said Meliana.

Considering TAFJA is one of the strategic alliances at the regional level, there is also a need to make the management clearer and more formal. On occasion, the Co-Coordinator was also chosen to coordinate and synergize tax and fiscal justice advocacy network in the Asian region. To help the Co-Coordinator work, a coordinating committee is needed at the sub-region level, which will be represented by three organization in each region. Perkumpulan Prakarsa (Indonesia) and APMDD (Philippine) were elected as Co-Coordinator for the 2019-2021 period, while the Coordinating Committee in Southeast Asia region was: Bantay Kita (Philippine), Workers Information Center (Cambodia), Community Knowledge Center ((Vietnam); in the South Asia region were: TAFJA Nepal, INSAF (India), Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (Pakistan), and regional representative were Public Service International and Third World Network.

With the election of these organizations as co-coordinators and coordinating committee, it is hoped that the movement to advocate for the tax issues in the Asian region can be more resonant and support the global movement to realize the tax and fiscal justice for people’s welfare and fair and sustainable development.