G20 ministers’ latest plan to help poor countries misses an opportunity to drive massive change because it neglects action against tax dodgers, says UK-based international development agency Christian Aid.
"The communiqué released by G20 ministers meeting in Washington on 23 September 2011 addresses important challenges but fails to prioritise one of the world’s most powerful weapons against poverty," commented Dr David McNair, Christian Aid’s Principal Adviser on Economic Justice.
He continued: "That weapon is financial transparency, which would make life far harder for the unscrupulous multinationals and individuals who currently dodge tax in poor countries on a multi-billion scale."
"Poor countries currently lose more to tax dodging alone than they receive in aid – we estimate that tax dodging costs them some $160billion ever year,’ added Dr McNair.
"Tackling this severe haemorrhaging of poor countries’ resources should be at the very top of the G20’s agenda but their latest communiqué makes only the most passing reference to it," he said.
"People living in poverty need the powerful G20 nations to throw their weight behind the fight against tax dodgers, who thrive on financial secrecy, not to go soft on them.
"We welcome the G20’s recognition that developing countries need to raise more taxes to fund infrastructure and protect the most vulnerable. But developing countries also need high-level political support to make this a reality," Dr McNair declared.
In addition, Christian Aid welcomed the communique’s acknowledgement of the need for regulators to take a closer interest in financial markets’ trade in commodities, which can drive food prices out of poor people’s reach.
"We are also pleased by what we have heard about the report G20 countries have commissioned Bill Gates to write about new ways to help people living in poverty," explained Dr McNair.
"We understand that Mr Gates’ final report in November will recognise the huge importance of helping poor countries to collect the billions in tax that are rightfully theirs.
‘However, Christian Aid and the many other organisations working for tax justice want G20 countries themselves to be saying such things – and acting on them.
"We will be working hard to get tax and transparency at the very top of the agenda for G20 leaders’ meeting in Cannes this November," said the Christian Aid spokesperson.