The G20’s recent endorsement of the creation “a more effective, efficient and fair international tax system” to tackle corruption has been welcomed by EXPOSED, the international coalition of Christian organisations which is challenging the global Church, business and governments to highlight the impact of corruption on the poorest of the poor.
But now the pressure is on for world leaders to follow up on their decisions and ensure action is taken, and quickly, to help those who are worst affected by corruption.
Although the G20 Summit of the world’s leading economies in St Petersburg last week was dominated by the crisis in Syria, important decisions were made which should result in reforms across the world to prevent tax evasion, one of the most insidious forms of corruption.
In a thought provoking article to highlight the outcomes of the G20, Amanda Jackson, head of Campaigns and Advocacy at Micah Challenge, one of the EXPOSED partners, writes that that although the declaration on tax attracted no publicity it is a ‘significant step to transparency.’
The declaration endorsed an “international standard of exchange of information on request” which should be implemented effectively around the world. This is an effort to track beneficial ownership, and stop profit shifting and secret bribe payments. In St Petersburg, the G20 Finance Ministers also supported on-going reforms of the international tax system by the OECD – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development designed to stop multinationals evading tax and including a timetable for practical implementation in 2014, when Australia holds the Presidency of the G20.
In the article Joel Edwards, Co-ordinator of the EXPOSED campaign, is positive about the G20 announcements but urges against complacency: “Consensus on financial transparency is crucial – no one nation can effect change in a world of global markets, global banking and global secrecy. The G20 statement is another step in the right direction but more concrete action is needed next year in time for the G20 in Australia.”
At the November 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane EXPOSED will deliver its Global Call to End Corruption to the world’s leaders. This is a petition pressing for more open tax regimes and greater transparency in payments to combat bribery and tax avoidance. EXPOSED is aiming for one million signatures on the Global Call.
The G20 article, which is posted on the EXPOSED website, outlines how governments are now becoming united on the need for change to prevent global conglomerates, like mining companies, hiding their true profits.
“Resource rich poor nations have found their natural resources to be a mixed blessing as multinationals shift profits and engage in complex price shifting that denies developing nations vital tax income. It also allows bribery and “facilitation payments” to go undetected. The G20 meeting in St Petersburg included a positive but general statement encouraging voluntary participation in the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)”, the article states.
EXPOSED also makes a claim for more involvement in future discussions by the poorer, still developing nations. The article states that “Rich nations want to collect missing tax because times are hard. That is understandable. But poor nations have an even bigger stake in making the system fairer. They need to be part of the discussions. It’s interesting that Switzerland, a prominent tax haven, was invited to the G20 meeting but the views of poor nations were missing. They need to be involved so that they can implement any new measures effectively.”
The EXPOSED campaign, supported by churches, agencies, prayer groups, business networks and individuals, was formed to draw attention to the fact that corruption is the biggest barrier to ending extreme poverty. Corruption affects the poorest families and communities the most.
The campaign will be highlighted during its Week of Action from October 14-20 2013 when there will be an emphasis on gathering signatures on the Global Call against corruption. During that week there will be a series of events including thousands of vigils to highlight the issue of corruption and its effects on the poorest of the poor.
Vigils are already planned for St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Monday October 14 starting at 6pm. Events are also planned in Washington DC, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, India, Malaysia and Moldova,. If you are organizing a Vigil there are resources available and once you have all your arrangements in place please register your Vigil on www.exposed2013.com/globalvigil
To add your voice to the Global Call to End Corruption, and to become ‘One in a Million’, you can sign the petition at www.exposed2013.com. Resources are also available on this website.