What the Budget and Finance Bill means for the IF Campaign
Helen Turner Oxfam Media Officer in the North
16th Apr 2013
The core issues of the IF Campaign are Land, Aid, Tax and Transparency. From the Budget, campaigners could expect results on the latter three. By Dan Mackenzie.
After months of lobbying and active engagement with the public, campaigners can be proud that they have been instrumental in ensuring the coalition government commits to spending 0.7% of the UK's gross national income (GNI) on overseas aid.
However, the commitment to aid hasn't come without cause for concern. In late February the Prime Minister stated that the UK's aid budget could be used on peacekeeping and defence-related projects. Supporters of the IF Campaign should be wary of their aims being twisted to support the arms industry. Oxfam's Head of Policy Max Lawson has stressed that money should go on "hospitals and not helicopter gunships" http://news.sky.com/story/1055056/charities-angry-at-pms-overseas-aid-hint
The Enough Food for Everyone IF group even sent a list of recommendations for the 2013 Finance Bill. One of the key issues here is that for every $1 sent to developing countries in aid, $10 is expropriated through illicit financial transactions, preventing sustainable development.
However, despite a commitment to the General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR) rules, the efforts on tax are largely disappointing. Richard Murphy suggests that the GAAR rules will only deal with marginal tax avoidance schemes, while some in the media have suggested that the scheme for securing missing tax looks like little more than a "PR stunt".
Campaigners who are determined to see genuine change in the redistribution of global resources and a fair food system will have to keep the pressure up to change the global tax system.
In the IF MP Briefing Finance Bill, it was clearly outlined that transparency helps tackle tax avoidance and evasion because it "provides tax authorities with detailed information to counteract...tax avoidance activities" and it "deters abusive tax behaviour".
Proposed legislation in the Budget and Finance Bill 2013 fall drastically short of the action needed to tackle the international, well-financed and 'legitimate' web of secrecy and anonymity that currently services corporate activity.
You only need to look at the work released today by the International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ) to see that the Coalition Government has no real interest in tackling secrecy jurisdictions: the UK is one of the major suppliers.
The 2013 Budget and Finance Bill marked a major step for the IF Campaign. The commitment to 0.7% of GNI being spent on aid shows that lobbying and activism does work. Forcing politicians into a position where they have to discuss these issues, thus putting their efforts under scrutiny, is essential to achieving the long-term goal of the campaign - ending hunger worldwide
With the G8 coming up on 17-18 June 2013 in Northern Ireland and with David Cameron planning a Hunger Summit earlier in the month, there is a need for supporters to maintain momentum for lasting change. The IF website contains all the updates from this multi-organisational campaign, together with advice about how to get involved: http://enoughfoodif.org/taxaction
(This text is an edited version of a longer post, available at danmackenzie.wordpress.com)
Picture credit: © Andrew Aitchison / IF Campaign