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Ex-finance minister warns of global scars | Narooma News

Former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann has sounded a warning about “the economic and social scars” of the pandemic.

Global economic growth has picked up this year and continues to improve, but the resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe shows that “serious downside risks remain,” the OECD secretary-general told the Lowy Institute on Wednesday.

“Our biggest risk remains further waves of infection,” he said from Paris.

Unequal vaccination rates hamper growth prospects, as do restrictions on movements around the world, he said.

Governments should focus economic support on those who really need it, and focus on sustainable investment in reconstruction infrastructure.

Mr Cormann reiterated that “ambitious” action is needed on climate change.

“It is very important that Australia is committed to net zero by 2050 and that a transition path is underway,” he said.

“It’s always important to be more ambitious, but it’s even more important to be able to deliver the results.”

Cormann was Australia’s longest-serving Chancellor of the Exchequer, having served under three Prime Ministers, including during the Abbott administration when Labor’s carbon tax was scrapped and current climate targets were set.

Now the OECD Secretary General, the former senator from resource-rich Western Australia, has called for the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies and coordinated global carbon pricing.

As head of the international economic body, he mobilizes global climate finance to help the world achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

He is also working to protect a rules-based international trading system as the world adjusts to the rise of China.

The recent global agreement on a new international tax system, including a minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent, must be implemented quickly to level the global playing field, Cormann said.

The landmark deal, agreed upon by 136 countries and jurisdictions representing more than 90 percent of global GDP, included China and India as signatories.

Competition on tax rules to attract foreign investment will also end under the pact, but Mr Cormann said the agreement was not about eliminating tax competition.

“We truly believe it will make the global tax system fairer and work better.”

Too many of the largest, most technologically advanced companies structured themselves to avoid tax, he said.

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft or Apple have established themselves in low-tax jurisdictions.

Mr Cormann said the OECD needs more members and that any market-based democracy should be able to make its case to join.

China, the world’s second largest economy and Australia’s largest trading partner, is one of many non-member economies.

Mr Cormann said many issues, including climate change, can only be tackled if China, India and the United States are sitting around the table.

Australian Associated Press

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