“The Globalization of Solidarity:” France praises UNITAID for setting example

Calls for adoption of Financial Transaction Tax as way forward for global development

26 September 2012. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, French President François Hollande praised UNITAID and called on the international community to follow France’s example in innovative financing and set up a tax on financial transactions.

“I would like to welcome the success of UNITAID, financed by a levy on airline tickets,” President Hollande told world leaders at the 67th General Assembly yesterday. “Today we need to take a second step and introduce a tax on financial transactions – that has already been agreed to by several European states – so that the capital movements that profit from globalization can contribute to international development and the fight against pandemics.”FH-E

President Hollande mentioned that France’s financial transaction tax, took effect on August 1st, 2012. Share purchases are subjected to a 0.2 percent transaction tax and according to the French parliament should raise around US$ 1.6 billion a year. “France will commit at least 10 percent of the revenues of this tax to development and for the fight against health scourges and pandemics,” President Hollande announced to applause from the General Assembly. “Let’s introduce this tax across the world and ensure that revenues go towards development. This would be a beautiful example of what I call the globalization of solidarity,” President Hollande concluded.

In his remarks to the press after the address, President Hollande said that UNITAID’s success was an inspiration for France’s commitment to the financial transactions tax. UNITAID is currently largely financed by a small levy on airline tickets in nine countries, including France, Chile, South Korea and several African countries. UNITAID uses this secure and predictable source of financing to negotiate the best prices in low-income countries for medicines and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy Chairman of the UNITAID Executive Board responded “We are delighted that UNITAID is cited as a model for new forms of global solidarity” and thanked President Hollande for acknowledging this on the global stage of the General Assembly. “For us at UNITAID, this is the culmination of six years of efforts since its foundation in 2006. We now have clear evidence that innovative financing can work to fund measurable impact against major health issues faced by the world’s poorest. I urge the nations of the world to earmark 10 per cent of their financial transaction tax inflows for the development work, for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals with emphasis on climate and environment.

Dr. Douste-Blazy added “I have always championed that  it’s globalization’s payback time to the poor of the world. UNITAID has demonstrated that the model innovative financing mechanism works and very efficiently at that. We need to expand this success to a bigger and wider scale. UNITAID efforts have demonstrated that MDG 6 targets are reachable. The new monies that come through FTT must be channeled into a bigger mechanism for reaching out to the poorest of the world .The bigger mechanism modeled after  UNITAID will help reach all the MGD s including those on climate and environment. President Hollande has shown that France is playing a leading role to adopt new ways to fund development,” World leaders must now follow President Hollande’s call to ‘globalize solidarity’ and make the financial transaction tax for global poverty eradication a reality.”

Dr. Denis Broun, Executive Director of UNITAID, welcomed President Hollande’s  support to UNITAID and said “Our responsibility has further increased with the President’s  exhortation and we will strive towards attaining excellence in UNITAID’s innovative  interventions for reaching out to  those most in need .”