The EXPOSED global coalition, which seeks to expose corruption and its effects on the poor, has welcomed this week's Lough Erne Declaration by the leaders of the G8 to end corporate tax evasion and clear up tax havens.
Corruption – which comes in all shapes and sizes and includes tax evasion because it robs economies of deserved income – is one of the leading causes of poverty across the globe. Civil society groups see the Lough Erne communiqué as a positive step towards tax justice. However, they now want to see nations take concrete steps towards ensuring that the promises are followed up.
Joel Edwards, International Co-ordinator of EXPOSED and Director of Micah Challenge which is a partner in the EXPOSED campaign said, "We need to keep the pressure on nations in the G8 and also ask the wider group of G20 nations to take up this challenge."
On Day 2 of the 39th G8 Summit held in Northern Ireland, members signed the Lough Erne Declaration. This includes provision for automatic exchange of tax information and for companies to report on all payments and profits wherever they operate (called 'country by country reporting').
Countries will also set up beneficial ownership registers in France, Italy, the UK and the US to establish who ultimately benefits from 'shell' companies which are often employed by tax evaders and money launderers. A 'shell corporation', while not necessarily illegal, is used for tax avoidance by concealing the real beneficiaries of companies.
The potential of the announcement from Lough Erne is that poor nations, especially those rich in oil and minerals, will be able to ascertain what taxes are being paid by multinational corporations operating within their border, including mining multinationals, and can collect proper levels of tax.
In addition, the G8 this week also opened the way to helping developing countries to build their tax base.
The G8 decision echoes calls issued by the OECD this week for a global financial information sharing system. The OECD said, "Tax evasion is a global issue requiring global solutions – otherwise the issue is simply relocated, rather than resolved."
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, host of the Belfast meeting, acknowledged that the "shoulds" and "shalls" of the announcement need to turn into commitments. But there is now a process under way to achieve "proper tax justice", Mr Cameron said.
EXPOSED is a global coalition of Christian agencies which seeks to expose corruption and its effects on the poor wherever it is found – in government, politics and the church. It wants the G20 group of the world's leading economies to take steps on tax transparency, country by country reporting and bribery, so that the billions of dollars which disappear each year from the global economy can be used to benefit ordinary citizens.
The coalition has raised a petition – the Global Call to End Corruption – which it will present to the G20 in 2014, with a hoped for one million signatures from people across the world who want to see an end to corruption in its many forms, at national, regional and local level.
EXPOSED is a coalition of Christian Organisations that aims to challenge the global Church, business and governments to highlight the impact of corruption on the poorest of the poor. The coalition includes:
Steering Group – World Evangelical Alliance; American Bible Society, USA; Association for a more Just Society (AJS), Honduras; British and Foreign Bible Society, UK; Evangelical Association of the Caribbean; Heads of Denominations, Zimbabwe; Micah Challenge International; The Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission; Unashamedly Ethical; 24-7 Prayer, South Africa
Other partners include – Advocates International; ALARM; ANAJURE, Brazil; CANOPI, Malaysia; Digni, Norway; Europartners; Evangelical Alliance UK; Intercessory Prayer Ministry Intl; Micah Network; Paz y Esperanza, Peru; The Leprosy Mission
For more information about EXPOSED, and to sign the Global Call to End Corruption go to www.exposed2013.com