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"Fiscal policy – and hence also tax policy – is one of the most important steering instruments of governments. The true priorities of policies are often revealed more clearly by budgets and tax legislation than they are by declarations and action programmes.

Also, a government’s fiscal policy reflects the political influence of certain interest groups. Are defence budgets or social welfare budgets being raised? Who enjoys tax reliefs, and how are they compensated for? Answers to these questions are crucial to whether governments are fulfilling their international and national commitments or whether they may not be meeting them under the pretext of budget policy constraints.

Public documents resulting from the presidential summits are usually boring and predictable, but the Santiago Declaration, issued on Sunday, January 27 following the EU-Latin American summit stunned diplomatic circles with a new consensus on the state’s role and responsibilities of transnational corporations.

A face of urban poverty in Mexico
city. (Photo: Marlon Berlanga)

The 2010 Progress Government Report on the MDGs in Mexico emphasizes that most of the indicators associated with the MDGs and their goals have significantly improved, claiming to have met most of them and anticipating the rest would be met by 2015.

Despite the progress, the report indicates that there is still a long way to go: income inequality and living conditions of poverty and vulnerability in many families still persist; it is necessary to reduce maternal mortality and consolidate gender equality; the vital challenge of environment and higher economic growth is still unsolved.

Tea plantation workers in the
protest. (Photo: UCANews)

Experiences of farmer organizations and people’s organizations over the last 15 years show that ecological agriculture is a very effective way of overcoming hunger and poverty and of reducing ill health, and ecological destruction caused by conventional chemical farming.

Over a hundred organizations of farmers, fishers, women, plantation workers and industrial workers have struggled in Sri Lanka for a more logical, workable and people friendly approach and strategy for economic improvement, reduction of poverty and hunger and for social justice.

Today they are able to present a very workable alternative approach to the economy and development process in the country.

Agriculture in Tanzania.
(Photo: dw_globalideas/Flickr)

Tanzania is endowed with abundant natural resources but lacks mechanisms for utilizing them effectively for micro and macro development. Invitation to foreign and local companies to invest in key economic sectors is yet to yield expected results. For instance, incentives and tax evasions are so high. The government is therefore urged to diversify the economy and find more viable and alternative sources of revenues for economic development.

The Synthesis Report of Global Public Consultation is based on and reflects an extensive global public consultation, held from September 2012 to January 2013. The Consultation process was co-led and facilitated by UNICEF and UN Women.

Fruit Seller in Cameroon.
(Photo : Elin_B/Flickr)

The national MDG targets in Cameroon are far from becoming a reality by 2015. It is recommended to concentrate efforts on transparency in the management of public resources, on improving the quality of the education system, strengthening the Expanded Programme of Immunization and reducing childhood diseases, and the implementation of sustainable development programs, in particular through legislation on land and environmental management standards in the growth strategy.

Workshop in Nicaragua.
(Photo: Coordinadora Civil)

The achievement of the MDGs in Nicaragua is in imminent danger due to the serious difficulties faced by virtue of several factors, such as low economic growth, increasing population demanding food and work, and growing corruption. Although there has been progress in some of them, this is not enough and does not approach the goal.

Ugandan anti-corruption sign.
(Photo : futureatlas.com)

The government of Uganda has continuously allocated resources to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but its failures in fighting corruption slow down progress, says David Obot, researcher for the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) and main author of the Ugandan civil society contribution to the Social Watch Report 2013. Uganda may reach three of the eight MDGs by 2015. The other goals would be missed, particularly those related to sectors where corruption is highly concentrated.

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