(Corrects paragraph 2, 10 and 11 to change number of countries
that have introduced airline levy to more than a dozen from 94,
helping to fund projects in 94 countries.)
By Tom Miles
GENEVA May 20 The United Nations is talking to
oil-producing African countries about levying 10 cents on every
barrel produced to provide funds to help the poorest nations
improve public health, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday.
The proposed funding mechanism would follow two other
schemes to raise money for development in unconventional ways -
a levy on airline tickets in more than a dozen countries and a
tax planned by 11 European nations on share transactions.
Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. under-secretary general for
innovative finance for development, said he hoped the new
arrangement would be cemented by early 2015.
"In 2014 I will be working with African leaders for a tax on
natural resource extraction, a very important development which
we will soon be able to announce," Douste-Blazy, a former French
minister of health and foreign affairs, told a news conference.
"I am working with three or four heads of state in Africa to
discuss with them about the possibility to take 10 cents per
barrel of oil - it's only for Africa, but it is too soon to give
you the names of these countries."
Asked who would pay the oil levy, he said it would come via
state budgets and "unfortunately" not from the oil companies,
who he suggested were not so receptive to the idea.
The levy could also be imposed on gas and mining production,
he said, without elaborating.
"I think that we have to begin with a microscopic
contribution but I think we have to work on globalised
activities that benefit a lot from globalisation. Extractive
resources is one of them. But in each case we have to discuss
with heads of state," Douste-Blazy said.
Douste-Blazy is the chairman of UNITAID, a body hosted by
the World Health Organization that provides long-term funding
for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in
UNITAID was launched in 2006 by the governments of Britain,
Brazil, Chile, France and Norway and about 75 percent of its
$300 million budget is now funded by the levy on air tickets,
supporting its projects in 94 countries.
Douste-Blazy said Morocco was the latest country to agree to
impose the levy and he hoped Japan would soon do so.
UNITAID says it was instrumental in persuading 11 European
countries to back the financial transaction tax, including a 0.2
percent levy implemented in France since March 2012.
Douste-Blazy said he wanted to tackle chronic malnutrition,
key to the Millennium Development Goals, a set of U.N.-sponsored
targets to reduce global poverty and improve health by 2015, but
said aid budgets were shrinking just as needs were growing.
He declined to say how much might come from the extractive
industries tax, suggesting a big success might take the pressure
off donor governments to support U.N. agencies facing big budget
shortfalls for development work.
"I am not going to give you some figures now. Because if I
speak to you about extractive resources or mobile phones, etc,
you can imagine that if we succeed, it's a lot, a huge amount of
He said the new scheme would start with Africa because
discussions with those heads of state had been most fruitful.
"But if you find me other heads of state who will agree to
do it, I wouldn't say no."
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Dale