The ‘Mistreated’ report is based on research that has for the first time examined more than 500 international tax treaties that low and lower-middle income countries in Eastern and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have signed from 1970 until 2014.
We commissioned research scoring how much a tax treaty restricts the way that the lower income country can levy profit tax, withholding tax and other taxing rights including capital gains tax.
Imagine the third largest employer in the nation's capital characterizing one of its African employees as an animal in an official report. His lawyer, Peter C. Hansen, demanded the "shameful" report that contained "the most galling... overtly racist... anti-African stereotypes" be removed from the record. The organization not only rejected the request, but its Administrative Tribunal felt obliged to let the lawyer know that the "tone and confrontational nature" of his pleadings did not go unnoticed.
The organization terminated the African and made it clear that he could have avoided termination “if [he] had spent a little bit more time and energy listening to his manager and co-workers, and a little bit less energy preparing his case with his attorney." This is not a tale of bygone years, but a case from November 2015.
The widening rich-poor gap is recognised as a major social and political problem, but what measures can be taken nationally and internationally to address this issue?
Economic inequality is now identified as one of the biggest challenges of our time.
Last week, the United States’ presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a rank outsider just a few months ago, won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire by a landslide against Hillary Clinton, with a campaign theme of fighting inequality.
How do we tackle this seemingly intractable and growing problem?
For the casual reader, Poul Thomsen’s recent piece on the role of the IMF in the bailout review negotiations taking place between Greece and the Troika would seem balanced and reasonable. At the end of the day, as he has argued elsewhere, the numbers simply need to add up. For that, there is a trade-off between the “ambition of the reforms” Greece needs to impose and the amount of debt relief that can be granted by its European partners. Put bluntly, more austerity implies less debt relief and vice versa.
Thomsen argues that given the contentious character of the negotiations the IMF is simply there as a friendly companion that supports both its Greek and European partners to make the tough decisions required to develop a program that adds up. However, for someone who is more familiar with the role that the IMF in general, and Thomsen in particular, has played in putting Greece in the precarious situation in which it finds itself today, his piece can only be defined as brazen and cynical.
In order to unpack Thomsen’s argument, we need to go by parts:
Ultimately a program must add up: the combination of reforms plus debt relief must give us and the international community reasonable assurances that by the end of Greece’s next program, after almost a decade of dependence on European and IMF assistance, Greece will finally be able to stand on its own”
Transparency International (TI) says it will impose social sanctions on the world’s nine most symbolic cases of grand corruption as voted by the public in its new campaign, Unmask the Corrupt.
“The nine cases were chosen based on popular voting by the public and also because of their widespread impact on human rights,” a TI spokesperson wrote to OCCRP via email. The campaign will focus attention on “the less visible side of grand corruption, such as laws allowing [for] anonymous companies and those who facilitate corrupt deals.”
According to a news release by TI, the campaign faced a vote-rigging problem during the online election process. The organization found fake registrations for votes cast by unknown parties in an attempt to manipulate the vote.
“Lying, cheating, stealing and fraud are the tools of the corrupt. We want to pursue sanctions against as many of these cases as possible. We cannot single out just one case, they all must be dealt with,” said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz in response to the attempted vote fraud.
The nine top cases selected for the campaign include:
So much is offered to us through indicators-stuffed networks that we live in constant awe for not being able to absorb it all --and much more so, not having the time for reflection (so as to use the same for effective human rights accountability purposes). (Albino Gomez)
1. The sayings
‘What gets measured, gets done’.
‘What is counted is the only thing that counts’.
‘Today’s investments in country health information systems will lead to a better tomorrow for billions of people’.
‘Accurate and timely health data are the foundation to improving public health’. (J.Y. Kim, M. Moellmann)
are terribly misleading and flawed.
The combination of increasing inequality and anemic economic growth has thrown a political spotlight on tax havens. Research has shown that governments are losing at least $200 billion in potential tax dollars every year because of them. And politicians throughout the world are feeling pressure to address this perceived injustice.
Consider, for example, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about companies “routing income through the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands or wherever” in an effort to minimize or avoid taxes. Clinton would like the United States to capture lost tax revenues from corporations booking profits in their offshore subsidiaries.
The victory of Syriza in Greece, a leftwing government in Portugal, the wonderful success of Podemos in Spain, a new chairman for the Labour party in Great Britain, the amazing victories of Bernie Sanders in the democratic caucuses in the US.
It is far too early to make a final analysis of what is happening, but one thing seems to be clear: many people, and most of all young people, seem to want something different in politics, they do not believe in neoliberal TINA-politics anymore, they think the world is far too unequal, they know they are the 99 % while it is the remaining 1 % that takes all the important decisions and pays no taxes. They know the ‘establishment’ or ‘la casta’ only listen to those who pay them, the CEOs of hedge funds, oil or car companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the mining corporations …
But we should have no illusions.
Gender inequality and its impact on economic growth have risen up the IMF agenda under current managing director Christine Lagarde’s leadership. In October 2015, the IMF published the staff discussion note (SDN) Catalyst for change: Empowering women and tackling income inequality, following a series of earlier gender-focused SDNs. The series has focused on the ways in which gender inequality has a negative impact on female labour force participation rates, which in turn has a negative effect on macroeconomic growth and stability. Previous SDNs have focused on gender inequalities in unpaid care; education: access to productive inputs: tax incentives and legal restrictions to women’s work.1 The latter links gender inequality to another issue on which the IMF has published research – income inequality.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) recently launched the report of its Financial Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System (“the Report”), established in early 2014 to explore how to align the financial system with sustainable development, with a focus on environmental aspects.
UNEP’s Financial Inquiry set out to respond three questions: 1) under what circumstances should measures be taken to ensure that the financial system takes fuller account of sustainable development?, 2) what measures have been and might be more widely deployed to better align the financial system with sustainable development? and 3) how can such measures best be deployed?