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Brown working hard to get global bank levy

We are committed to ensuring the banks – through good management – pay back every last penny to the British taxpayer Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister. (SUPPLIED)

By Reuters

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday he was working very hard with international colleagues to agree a global bank levy, following huge state spending on bailouts during the financial crisis.

In a podcast, Brown said it was only fair that those who have benefited from taxpayers' money should "give something to society in return".

"I can tell you also that I am working very hard with international colleagues – including talks this week at the European Council – to find agreement on a global bank levy to make sure that in the future the contribution banks make is properly captured," he said.

Brown put forward the idea of a global tax on financial transactions at a meeting of the Group of 20 nations in Scotland in November.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven leading economies called this month for closer study of the UK proposal for a bank levy to cover the cost of bailouts in 2008 and 2009 that ran to hundreds of billions of dollars.

The US administration has opposed a tax on financial transactions, but recently President Barack Obama proposed that Wall Street banks pay up to $117 billion (Dh429.39bn) to reimburse taxpayers for the financial bailout.

Brown said it was important any levy on British banks was matched by other countries.

He also said he wanted to end tax avoidance by financial institutions "that happens when they play off one country against another".

Britain is already imposing a one-off tax on bonuses paid to bank employees. In the next few weeks, banks will unveil their bonus packages for staff, the proceeds of which will go towards alleviating youth unemployment and cutting the country's record £178bn (Dh1.02 trillion) budget deficit.

"These measures are not intended as a punishment but there can be no return to business as usual: responsible business practice is essential and the banks have to recognise that they have had help from taxpayers to keep going," Brown said, expressing his anger at some banks' behaviour.

"We are committed to ensuring the banks – through good management – pay back every last penny to the British taxpayer."


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