Oxfam: Unpaid corporate tax could solve global hunger with money to spare

Posted by Lucy Brinicombe Senior Press Officer

31st Jan 2013

Oxfam today reveals that less than a third of the money that developing countries lose to corporate tax dodgers would be enough to end global hunger. 

The international agency is calling on the UK government to start closing the loop-holes that enable companies to dodge tax.  Just $50.2 billion a year is needed to end global hunger (1) yet an estimated $160 billion is lost to corporate tax dodgers.

The call comes as the High Level Panel meeting begins in Liberia today (31), with David Cameron among the co-chairs. In Liberia, just over $1 billion in illicit finances flowed from the country every year over the last decade by companies and individuals. This is twice the average amount it received in aid and equivalent to two thirds of Liberia's GDP in 2011 (2). Tax dodging by companies involves a mixture of legal and illegal activities such as using tax havens, price manipulation across borders and false invoicing.

David Cameron used his keynote speech at Davos last week to tell tax dodgers in both rich and poor countries to "wake up and smell the coffee". Oxfam is urging him to turn his rhetoric into reality.

Oxfam's chief executive Barbara Stocking said: "Unpaid taxes by greedy corporations is enough to help poor countries end global hunger three times over. At this meeting, David Cameron should be pushing for an end to global hunger by 2025, and an end to tax dodging which could pay for this and much more. These companies are effectively taking food from hungry mouths."

Oxfam was among 100 organisations that launched the If campaign last week, pressing David Cameron to use his role as host of the G8 Summit in June to tackle global hunger. Despite there being enough food in the world, one in eight people go hungry every day. Unpaid taxes could help address this, along with tackling systemic failures such as boosting investment in small holder agriculture, curbing high and volatile food prices, stopping land grabs and improving  transparency in both tax and company operations.

The Panel meeting, also with Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono co-chairing, is tasked with defining the vision and priorities for new global goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals after 2015.

There has been progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, universal primary education and combating AIDS and HIV. However, there is still a lot more to be done. In Liberia, for example where data is limited, the latest available poverty rate in 2007 was 87 per cent. Almost a third of the population were undernourished (3). 

World leaders need to take urgent action to end the situation that saw the richest 100 people increase their wealth by $240 billion in 2012 while 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Oxfam is pushing for a new universal set of goals to be agreed that contain strong commitments to end poverty, tackle inequality and ensure a fair share of the world's limited resources by all countries - and for civil society and developing countries to have a strong voice in the process. 

ENDS

For more information or to arrange interviews both in the UK and Liberia, please contact Lucy Brinicombe / 07786 110054 / lbrinicombe@oxfam.org.uk

For photographs and testimonies, click here:

http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=13019&k=0e3c6fa881

1) Statistics from the Zero Hunger Challenge: http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3028e/i3028e.pdf. 

2) The estimate for annual illicit financial flows between 2001 and 2010 is between $1011 to $1083 billion. Page 55 and 36 respectively. http://iff.gfintegrity.org/documents/dec2012Update/Illicit_Financial_Flows_from_Developing_Countries_2001-2010-WEB.pdf
The figure average for net official development assistance and official aid Liberia received for the same period of 2001-2010 according to the World Bank (constant US$) was $493 million, half of illicit finance flows. http://databank.worldbank.org/ddp/home.do
According to IMF's country evaluation in November 2012, Liberia's GDP in 2011 was $1419 billion. Page 42:  
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2012/cr12340.pdf

3) Figures from: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Data.aspx


About Enough Food for Everyone IF:
Enough Food for Everyone IF is a coalition of 100 organisations, including Oxfam, and counting which have joined together to campaign for action by the G8 on the issue of global hunger. The last time we worked together at this scale was for Make Poverty History. Now that the G8 group of world leaders are returning to the UK, we are demanding they take action on hunger. 2013 won't be the end of hunger, but it could be the beginning of the end. Join us at www.enoughfoodif.org

Blog post written by Lucy Brinicombe

Senior Press Officer

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