GSEE renews the call for a Tobin tax

The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) yesterday called on the government to support the idea of a tax on the movements of international speculative capital (Tobin tax), which is on the agenda of the EU Economic and Finance Ministers Council (ECOFIN) meeting on September 22. The Tobin tax is, of course, not a panacea, but it could be a useful tool in establishing some form of control over the unchecked forces of globalization and global speculation of a neo-liberal character, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos told a press conference. He said GSEE was the first trade union organization to propose the introduction of the tax, which was adopted and included in the communique of the conference of the Confederation of European Trade Unions in 1999. Polyzogopoulos said that on the basis of the $1.5-trillion daily volume of transactions in currency markets in 1998, a tax of just 0.1 percent on the movement of short-term capital worldwide would provide $166 billion annually for social policies, more than enough to combat global poverty. The measure would not concern long-term capital movements for productive investments, he added. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have lent support to the Tobin tax, which has also been one of the basic ideas propagated by the anti-globalization group ATTAC in France. Polyzogopoulos called on political parties to adopt clear-cut positions on the issue of social security reform and appealed that its significance not be downgraded under the weight of international developments. GSEE is holding a national conference on the issue on September 26. While online transactions and payments have been slow to take off in Greece, the method could gain ground in a couple of years, he said.

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