#PandoraPapers: ActionAid calls on governments to stamp out tax avoidance

ActionAid International on Tuesday called on governments across the world to step up efforts to stamp out tax avoidance by the economic and political elite.

In a statement signed by Julia Sánchez, Secretary-General of ActionAid International and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said: “It is totally unacceptable for governments to claim they can’t afford healthcare, quality education or a green transition away from polluting fossil fuels when they are allowing such vast resources to be looted by wealthy elites and corrupt politicians.”

The ActionAid statement was in reaction to “The Pandora Papers,” one of the biggest leaks of financial documents, which has revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data, the extensive use of tax havens and tax secrets of the world’s richest and most powerful.

These dodgy practices, the statement said were facilitated by banks and the financial sector which serve as the guardians of secrecy in tax havens.

The statement said: “The Pandora Papers are set to expose further tax scandals, featuring decision-makers using shoddy tax havens and more loopholes in tax legislation that politicians will pretend are mistakes to be rectified, rather than there by design.”

According to ActionAid, “this highlights more than ever the need for serious action on tax justice, including improved tax transparency.”

Therefore, ActionAid International called for “public registers of beneficial ownership, in all jurisdictions, accounts and entities, to stop crooks setting up shell companies to hide wealth in tax havens.”

The ActionAid statement said it must be made mandatory for countries to exchange vital information to help stop the practice and explained that Public country-by-country reports of corporate tax payments and key financial data would help improve transparency and reduce the secrecy that allows these loopholes.

“A global minimum corporate tax rate of 25 per cent would also be an effective way of stopping potential tax revenue being hidden in tax havens,” the statement said.

The statement said: “Five years have passed since the Panama Papers which exposed the dodgy tax dealings of a Panama based law firm and its clients, and eight years since the G20 mandated the BEPS process, intended to end tax avoidance and satisfy people’s demands for tax justice and fairness.

“Billionaires increased their wealth by US$3.9 trillion in the first year of the pandemic, while global workers lost earnings of US$3.7 trillion. With inequality still rising, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, states need fair and progressive tax rules more than ever,” it noted.

The statement said, “the Panama Papers, LuxLeaks and now the Pandora Papers are just the tip of a tax-dodging iceberg. If we are to avoid the fate of the Titanic, we must change course now and demand tax justice once and for all”.

ActionAid has long campaigned on Tax Justice, outlining ways governments could fairly and progressively leverage tax revenues from both wealthy individuals and corporate giants.

Source: GNA

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