- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2001

Critics of the United Nations yesterday dismissed a U.N. proposal to tax international currency exchanges as a trial balloon with "zero" chance of being taken seriously.

"This has the same prospects as the [earlier] U.N. proposals to tax the Internet. Zero. The U.N. has no taxing authority," said Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican.

Other critics of the international body were equally dismissive.

"Any U.N. official who advocates [a global tax] should be fired," said Cliff Kincaid, president of America's Survival, a Maryland-based public policy organization that often criticizes the United Nations. "The U.N. is to be funded by contributions. There is nothing in the U.N. Charter that permits this."

The United Nations issued a report Tuesday suggesting a global tax on currency trades to help fight world poverty.

"It's nothing new," Mr. Kincaid said yesterday. "They have been proposing global taxes for years."

He added, "Our taxes are paying the salaries of the bureaucrats who write these reports and make these proposals."

The U.N. report, something of a wish list of ways to reduce global poverty, called for debt relief and sustained aid and investment in the world's poorest countries.

Paragraph 113 called for "conducting a rigorous analysis of advantages, disadvantages and other implications of proposals for developing new and innovative sources of funding, both public and private, for dedication to social development and poverty eradication programs."

The section suggesting that some of the programs might be paid for by taxing international monetary exchanges.

"Some delegations … indicated their view that the proposals to be analyzed should include those of national 'currency transaction taxes,' " it said.

If the United Nations collected a 0.1 percent tax on $1.5 trillion in "speculative" currency transactions, it would produce $150 billion a year to fund anti-poverty programs, according to the report, which was compiled in collaboration with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and others.

The congressional compromise that provided for the payment of nearly $1 billion in U.S. arrears was conditioned in part on a provision prohibiting any U.N. attempts to institute any sort of global tax.

The authors of the compromise, Sens. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, and Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat the chairman and ranking minority leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee declined to comment yesterday on the U.N. report.

Several observers sympathetic to the United Nations said the global tax proposal was unlikely to go anywhere.

"The U.N. tries to be an inclusive organization. Someone proposed this, but it looks like they just put this in to be inclusive," said one.

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