A day after Microsoft founder Bill Gates said he should pay more taxes, the multi-billionaire donated $750million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
The news comes on the tenth anniversary of the Global Fund, to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already contributed $650million. It gives aid to some of the most underprivileged countries in the world.
‘These are tough economic times, but that is no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest,’ Mr Gates said.
‘The Global Fund is one of the most effective ways we invest our money every year.’
While the donation will give an immediate boost to the Global Fund, more is needed from governments, which have provided the bulk of the $22.6billion that has been raised by the Geneva, Switzerland-based organization to date for its work in 150 countries.
The commitment of governments was shaken last year when the fund reported ‘grave misuse of funds’ in four recipient nations, prompting some donors such as Germany and Sweden to freeze their donations.
Mr Gates, however, played down the problem and praised the fund’s transparency, which he said had exposed corruption problems that might well have remained hidden at other organisations.
‘If you are going to do health programs in Africa you are going to have some percentage that is misused,’ he said.
The AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria fighter is a magnet to high-profile figures. In the tenth anniversary video, former prime minister Tony Blair, former president Bill Clinton, and U2 frontman Bono are just some of the familiar faces that praise the efforts of the Global Fund.
They also add there is much more difficult work to be done in the fight against these diseases.
Mr Gates, who is worth an estimated $59billion, said that he agreed that drastic fiscal measures are taken to help the country recover from its crippling deficit.
‘The United States has a huge budget deficit so taxes are going to have to go up,’ he said in an interview about his devotion to charitable giving.
‘I certainly agree that they should go up more on the rich than everyone else that’s just justice.’
Mr Gates’ comments to BBC come a day after President Obama addressed the country in his annual State Of The Union speech, in which he argued the need for a tightened tax code that forces millionaires and billionaires to pay what he feels is a more appropriate share of their earnings to the state.
The Microsoft founder has dedicated much of his time in the past five years to charitable causes, spearheading African aid projects and encouraging others to spread their wealth.
‘I hope we can solve that deficit problem with a sense of shared sacrifice where everybody would feel like they’re doing their part.
‘Right now I don’t feel like people like myself are doing as much as we should,’ Mr Gates concluded.
Mr Buffett, after whom Mr Obama named his proposed tax, is actually the co-sponsor of Mr Gates’ Giving Pledge initiative. The effort targets billionaires and has them agree to give away at least half of their wealth to charitable causes either during their lifetime of after their death.
As of last April, 69 people had publically joined the pledge.
Mr Obama spoke extensively about the need to place higher taxes on millionaires during Tuesday night’s speech.
‘Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households,’ the President said.
‘Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.’
Mr Buffett’s secretary Debbie Bosanek has been a common point of reference during the debate over raising taxes, and she for the first time since the issue was raised, Ms Bosanek herself was seen as she was a guest of the First Lady.
Mr Obama made an argument- later echoed by Mr Gates- that the only sensible approach to fixing the deficit and paying for necessary social programs was by focusing on the country’s wealthy.
‘Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else – like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both,’ he said.