for fair taxation
In 2015 there was a wave of student protests in Bangladesh against a new university taxation. As a result the government reconsidered the taxation.
Among the key drivers of mobilising and organising the protests in Bangladesh were 38 young people who had just completed a Campaign Training at Global Platform Bangladesh, ActionAid’s training hub for empowerment and activism.
At the Campaign Training the participants have been focussing on taxation of multinational corporations and lack of public funding for education, as the theme of the campaign they had to carry out.
A main purpose of the Global Platform training was to empower the young people to do campaigning and believe in themselves as drivers of change.
The training enabled the young people to address problems they face at the local level in relation to the lack of public services and linking it to a national and global level in the context of missing taxation of multinational corporations.
ActionAid’s global reports and analysis formed the basis for the campaign, and the young people were shocked by the findings e.g. that 64% of tax revenues come from VAT and taxes paid by individual taxpayers, whereas only 36% comes from firms and corporations.
After the Campaign Training one of the participants; Shabuj Kluna, 24 years, felt ready to continue the campaign work: “Before I did not understand how powerful a factor tax is for the development of Bangladesh. Now I want to spread the word to my family, friends and people in my community”.
THE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES
On the basis of the Campaign Training the participants formed a campaign group of 140 young people from five districts across the country, with the declared aim of demanding tax justice in Bangladesh.
Within a month after completing the Global Platform training the youth mobilised more than 3000 young people to join the campaign activities.
The young people organised workshops on their campuses and street meetings in their local communities to spread the message. They established contact with journalists, which resulted in four articles in local and national newspapers and started a petition collecting 2000 signatures for a ‘Stop Corporate Tax Avoidance’ demanding the government to initiate control of corporate tax avoidance.
Eighteen of the young people from the campaign group also participated in a conference on tax held by the supreme tax authority in Bangladesh (National Board of Revenue). Here they managed talking to the NBR President about the need to stop the multinationals tax avoidance.
Global Platform Bangladesh have made a follow-up training where the young participants developed an action plan for their future work with tax. Part of the training was also to establish a close collaboration between the participants and ActionAid Bangladesh, where the young people will be playing a key role in the future tax work on both local, national and global level. The young people who are trained at the Global Platform, are important links to social movements and groups of young people and have helped putting tax on the agenda in a broader coalition of civil society organizations.