Tuesday, March 30, 2010

British cross-party support for transparency measures

Responding to Christian Aid’s campaign on transparency, taxation and international development, British Conservative Party leader David Cameron has issued the following statement:

"Just as Conservatives believe that aid needs to be more effective and accountable in order for it to have the maximum possible impact on global poverty, so there is no doubt that more needs to be done to increase transparency in tax affairs.

The UK Government has a responsibility to work with other countries, including overseas territories, to ensure that information on the tax position of individuals and companies is exchanged between tax authorities. This is vital in addressing tax evasion and also money laundering.

Ultimately, an international accounting standard on country-by-country reporting may well address many of the problems currently created by a lack of transparency. We need to ensure that any such reporting regime provides the relevant information and does not deter multinationals investing in developing countries.

In the shorter term, the UK Government must continue to press for further exchange of information agreements, greater monitoring of the use of transfer pricing and the use of complex structures and greater transparency."

This is good news. UK tax justice campaigners now find themselves in a situation where, in the run-up to imminent elections, all three major parties have issued statements that broadly support TJN's call for effective tax information exchange and corporate accounting transparency in the form of a country-by-country reporting standard. Yes, we can quibble over the working of the statement, which does not specify automatic information exchange, and uses weak language ("may well address many of the problems"), but the degree of cross-party alignment is welcome. These issues are too important to be treated on a partisan basis, and all political parties, whether on the Left or the Right, need to recognise that the corrupt practices facilitated by financial secrecy are incompatible with market economies and democratic forms of government.

Well done to our colleagues at Christian Aid.


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