Treasurer Wayne Swan has an opportunity to help stop the price of basic foods surging further out of the reach of the world’s poor who are also still reeling from the Global Financial Crisis, Oxfam Australia said ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting that starts in Paris today.
Oxfam Australia Acting Executive Director James Ensor said Australia needs to support the commitments of the G20 Chair, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to address the food price crisis and introduce an international Financial Transactions Tax on the banking sector in 2011.
“Action on the food price crisis is more urgent than ever with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reporting this month that world food prices had surged to their highest ever level.
“If you’re earning $20 an hour this rise in global food prices will eventually hit your pocket. But if you’re earning $20 a month, it can be the difference between eating or not.
“Volatility in global food prices is caused by many factors – including weather-related crop damage, the continuing rush on biofuels and land, and market speculation which is distorting prices.
“Treasurer Swan needs to back France’s commitment to regulate global food markets so they are more transparent and better controlled,” Mr Ensor said.
Mr Ensor said G20 meetings present a crucial opportunity to begin reform of the global economy to ensure all countries benefit from economic recovery.
“President Sarkozy has committed to exploring the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax to help repair the damage done to poor people by the Global Financial Crisis and Treasurer Swan needs to work with other Finance Ministers to work out exactly how they will deliver these promises.
“A tax of 0.05 per cent on all financial transactions would have the potential to raise $US400 billion a year for domestic public services, overseas development and to assist poor people in adapting to the devastating impacts of climate change.
Mr Ensor said he hoped that today’s Finance Ministers meeting would set the tone for the G20 leaders meeting to be held in November as a forum that can act on development.
“Recent research for Oxfam shows that 56 of the poorest countries in the world face a combined $US65 billion hole in their budgets as a result of the economic crisis.
“While economic growth is vital to help people in developing countries, it is not enough on its own to lift vulnerable people, most of whom are women, out of poverty,” Mr Ensor said.
For more information or to interview James Ensor please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.