UNITAID Has Raised $2B Through Airline Tax Since 2006, Could Be Model For G20 Development Funding, UNITAID Chair Says

UNITAID, an international drug financing program established to help fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries, has raised about $2 billion since 2006 through taxes on airline tickets in 15 countries, Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of the UNITAID executive board, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports. According to Douste-Blazy, UNITAID’s experience could provide a model for G20 development funding efforts.

The former French foreign minister described UNITAID’s funding mechanism as “painless” and “a way to find new sources of finance for development.”

“With the financial crisis we are going to see a decline of ODA (official development aid),” Douste-Blazy said. The G20 November meeting “is the opportunity to have 2011 as the year of innovative financing,” he said. “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,” AFP reports.

Douste-Blazy also told reporters that he hopes to persuade China to join UNITAID when he visits the country in June (4/20).