PRESS RELEASE : British MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer meets Goenchi Mati Movement (Goa)

GOA (12-Jan-2017): Many voters of his constituency originally hailing from Goa had contacted Mr. John McDonnell, British MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, to study and consider exciting proposals emanating from Goa, India, which deal with the conservation of natural resources in the interest of future generations, respecting the principle of intergenerational equity.

On a recent visit to Goa during the Christmas season, Mr. McDonnell had a meeting with the main designers of what has come to be known now as the Goenchi Mati (Goan Earth) Movement.  These included Dr Claude Alvares, Director of the Goa Foundation and Mr Rahul Basu, Director of the Research Cell, Goa Foundation, dealing explicitly with intergenerational equity issues. This press note records the results of the meeting.

Minerals are our shared inheritance. Large scale illegal iron ore mining took place in the small state of Goa, India, from the period 2004-2012 when it became the subject of a judicial inquiry by a former Supreme Court judge, Justice M.B. Shah, set up by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India. The inquiry confirmed large scale pilferage of natural resources by miners and extensive environmental destruction.

Pursuant to the inquiry report, the Goa Foundation filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India. In its judgment on the petition, delivered on 24th April 2014, the Supreme Court issued a declaration that all mining in the state of Goa for the period 2007-2012 had been carried out in the absence of valid mining leases.  However, it permitted resumption of mining subject to fresh approvals and safeguards.  It also imposed a maximum cap of 20 million tonnes per annum beyond which mining would not be permitted in Goa in the interest of environmental protection and intergenerational equity.

The Goa Foundation was able to persuade the Supreme Court to also issue an additional direction that 10% of the sale value of all iron ore transactions in future would be kept aside for future generations in the form of the Goan Iron Ore Permanent Fund. Over 50 such Permanent or Sovereign Wealth Funds exist all over the world designed to invest receipts from the sale of natural resources. The Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund is the first Permanent Fund set up in India, and the first globally by judicial order. Pursuant to these directions, the Goa government set up the Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund and GBP 10 million has been deposited.

However, the Goa Foundation felt that the Iron Ore Fund suffered from an ad-hoc approach. It therefore decided to launch a separate campaign called the Goenchi Mati Movement (GMM). The core principles of the Goenchi Mati Movement are that since minerals are a shared inheritance, it is our duty to ensure that we preserve our inherited capital for future generations. Mining is essentially the sale of the family gold. We must therefore ensure zero loss mining, ie, receive the full value after extraction costs. Everything we receive must be saved, ideally in a Permanent Fund. Since the minerals were a part of the commons, so too is the Permanent Fund. Any real income should therefore simply be distributed equally to all as a Citizen’s Dividend.

The movement has launched a manifesto that it asks political parties to incorporate into their election manifestos. A copy of the manifesto was handed over to Mr. McDonnell. It also proposed that this scheme be taken up by other groups within the country facing similar situations in order to protect these assets for future generations.The Goa proposals have received support from several institutions, economists and public interest networks across the globe.

After the discussions with the Goenchi Mati team, Mr McDonnell expressed his interest in exploring the potential for similar proposals for the UK as well. The UK received around GBP 400 billion less than Norway did for a similar amount of North Sea oil. Even the amounts from the sale of these resources have been treated as income and been utilized and spent, resulting in steady depletion of the resource base available to future generations in the UK. The UK today does not have a Permanent Fund similar to Norway, which conserved and invested all the money from the sale of their natural resources in its permanent fund. Without an initiative if this kind there is a growing concern that citizens, children and future generations of the UK are faced with a scenario of persistent natural resource depletion over decades.

John commented "I wholeheartedly compliment the GM campaign for the originality of its proposals. I am studying with my team of expert advisers the potential for their implementation in the UK in the near future as well. The innovative and creative approach by the GM campaign to addressing the increasingly pressing issue of intergenerational equity is truly inspiring."

Claude said “We are happy that a proposal initiated in Goa is now inspiring people across the globe. I hope this development stimulates Goans to put more of their energies and commitment to the Goenchi Mati campaign.”

Rahul remarked “Natural resources are a shared inheritance, and everyone is responsible for ensuring future generations inherit what we do. We have always wanted to implement our core principles across the globe. This is the future the entire planet needs.”

The Goenchi Mati Movement is a single issue movement which is by policy not aligned with political parties. GMM has asked parties to endorse and incorporate the Goenchi Mati Manifesto into their manifestos for the Goa Assembly elections on Feb 4. The Goenchi Mati Manifesto is available at goenchimati.org/manifesto. It is available in English, with translations into Konkani (Devnagari, Romi), Marathi, Hindi and Portuguese.  Show your support at goenchimati.org/support. Aamchi Mati Aamka Zai!

CONTACT: Roxanne Coutinho

Phone: +91 800 763 6466

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