The Tobin Tax: another lost opportunity?

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has promoted the so-called `Tobin Tax' as a major mechanism for generating a substantial increase in global resources for tackling human-development priorities. Such a levy, on largely speculative and unproductive international transactions, may be capable of generating over US$300 billion per year: several times higher than existing levels of bilateral aid. However, given the muted dialogue at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, and in order to secure the necessary support of key developed countries and global financial institutions, it may be inevitable that the Tobin Tax, if adopted, would ultimately serve the interests of the wealthier economies. There is, therefore, an urgent need for the development sector to engage in debate on how, and how much of, such funds would be directed to priority human-development purposes.