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$2 Billion for Health Program Generated from Airline Tax : UN

by Thilaka Ravi on April 22, 2011 at 7:23 AM
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 $2 Billion for Health Program Generated from Airline Tax : UN

Philippe Douste-Blazy, UN special advisor said Wednesday that a tax on airline tickets in 15 countries has generated some $2 billion since 2006 to fight three major diseases in developing countries.

The former French foreign minister who now chairs UNITAID, the UN's drug purchase facility funded by a small surcharge on airline fees, said it was "painless," and "a way to find new sources of finance for development."

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UNITAID, which is hosted by the World Health Organization, operates programs to fight against the HIV/Aids, malaria, and tuberculosis.

"With the financial crisis we are going to see a decline of ODA (official development aid)," noted Douste-Blazy in a discussion with reporters in Washington.
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The G20 meet in November, he said, "is the opportunity to have 2011 as the year of innovative financing" notably assessing how a pioneer effort to raise funds through the taxation of financial transactions.

According to his calculations, a simple tax of 0.05 percent on foreign exchange transactions between banks could yield as much as $120 billion per year. A variable tobacco tax ranging from one to five cents a pack could raise $8 billion, he said.

Douste-Blazy also said he hopes on a visit to China in June he could persuade the growing Asian giant to join UNITAID -- with 200 million tickets purchased each year, and rising, funding for the medical program could rise dramatically.

Source: AFP
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