Fighting inequality through tax and budget work

Nguyen Thu Huong Inequality, Tax

Today Oxfam and its partners releases the Fiscal Justice Global Track Record, a report on advancing rights through tax and budget work. Below are several commentaries from Oxfam staff highlighting the importance of tackling injustice through tax and introduce our new programme FAIR – Fiscal Accountability for Inequality Reduction.

In Vietnam we are monitoring and influencing how tax money is raised, who pays and who does not pay their fair share of tax, and how tax money is invested in public services. We believe that these investments must response to people’s rights and needs, especially of marginalized groups in our society. We see this as critical for tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice at the local and global levels.

This track record is one way that we are sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge globally. These exchanges are essential because they generate collective energy and momentum for civil society and citizens to join hands together to support fairer tax systems, budget allocations and the expenditure on public services
Young people are the future generation who will lead Vietnam’s development in the future and many of them question the root causes of poverty and injustice.  We are working with young people to raise awareness of citizen’ rights as tax payers and mobilize public demand for budget transparency using social media and online tools: 238,000 Facebook likes of their campaign comic strips, with over 100,000 views on the campaign website, 11,800 people has signed off a petition to toward the national assembly to demand for open information of budget proposal for public hearing before the state budget law is approved.

Deepak Xavier, Head of Even It Up Campaign, Oxfam International

Since its launch, the Even It Up! Campaign is changing the terms of global debate on inequality and we are globally recognised as a leading civil society voice in the fight against inequality. Historically, Oxfam’s campaigns have been developed on the basis of knowledge and understanding we gained from our programmes.  This Fiscal Justice Track Record gathers 22 of those stories of change together and shares what we and our partners have learnt.

Oxfam and partners support people across the world to challenge rapidly rising inequality and demand changes in policy and practice. This movement of people can amplify the voice of a small group in a remote corner of Malawi or Vietnam or Bolivia and make them powerful to influence global agenda. The fiscal justice track record tells some of these inspiring stories of change.

Isabel Crabtree-Condor, Knowledge Broker, Governance & Citizenship Knowledge Hub, Oxfam

Tax systems, the budget cycle and public spending are the most visible and tangible expression of the social contract between citizens and state. Quality Public services, like healthcare and education, can also be great equalizers, and can mitigate the worst impacts of today’s skewed wealth and income distribution by putting “virtual income” into people’s pockets.

But there is much more we can do to use fiscal justice to tackle inequality, advance people’s rights and reduce poverty. Oxfam and partners are developing a common approach and theory of change to reduce inequality in 30+ countries. This new programme is called FAIR – Fiscal Accountability for Inequality Reduction. For me, one of the most exciting components of FAIR is that knowledge and learning are hardwired into the DNA of the programme, illustrating how Oxfam and partners work together as an effective knowledge-led network.


Anna Marriott