Bill Gates presented his report on financing for development at the G20 summit today, commissioned by President Sarkozy earlier this year. The report urges the worlds’ richest leaders to maintain their commitments to international aid and focuses on how the G20 can assist developing countries to expand their own revenue bases and ultimately achieve self-reliance. It also proposes new taxes on financial transactions, tobacco and transport fuels.
Martin Hearson, ActionAid’s tax policy expert, said: “The report is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak summit for the world’s poor, but it does not go far enough on tax havens and tax dodging by multinational companies.
“While the world is understandably focused on the Eurozone crisis and the Greek referendum, the Gates’ report is an important and welcome addition to the debate about how poor countries can raise more money and escape from aid dependency.
“What Gates says is that aid should help poor countries progress towards the moment when they no longer need it. This is absolutely right, as are his ideas on how countries can raise their own money — the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), shipping and aviation fuel levies, and better domestic tax collection.
“His backing of the FTT demonstrates it is a practical and workable solution. If Bill Gates, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, supports the FTT, then David Cameron should do the same and pave the way for a tax which could help both the economies of the UK and developing countries.
“However Gates should have been much braver on other tax issues. He says all G20 countries should require mining and oil companies listed on their stock exchanges to disclose payments to governments. It’s a shame he doesn’t go further and recommend the kinds of disclosures by all companies that would really help shine a light on the tax dodging and tax haven secrecy that means poor countries lose three times as much as they receive in aid.
“Only when poor countries are really able to tackle tax dodging will they no longer have to be dependent on aid.” ActionAid is calling on the G20 to recognise that tax dodging by multinational companies keeps developing countries dependent on aid. The communiqué tomorrow must commit to increasing the transparency of both companies and tax havens.