If you have ever contributed to charities working in developing countries, you’ve probably wondered just how far your money is going. First, there’s the worry that your money may be going to admin costs rather than the people ‘on the ground.’ Apart from that, you may have been plagued by the nagging suspicion that throwing money at poverty isn’t really going to change anything.
“a new accounting standard called country-by-country reporting, which would require multinationals to publish information about the profits they make and the taxes they pay in every country where they operate.”
Until we know what powerful firms are actually doing in those countries, it is all too easy to shake our heads and wonder why ‘those people’ can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop depending on Western aid.
Until there are better and more protective rules about the way the world’s richest firms do business in poor countries, the charity pounds, euros and dollars of the West aren’t going to be any more effective than a band-aid or a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.
According to a report on Ekklesia, Christian Aid has written to all the FTSE 100 companies. Campaign manager Judith Cavanagh says,
"We have written to all the FTSE 100 companies, seeking their views on questions such as whether businesses have a social responsibility to pay tax in poor countries and whether they would support the introduction of a new, more transparent accounting standard.”
The response from the companies has not been overwhelming so far (unsurprisingly!), so last week Christian Aid asked its supports to ask leading companies such as Marks & Spencer, Rolls Royce, BT and Barclays to return the survey.
Christian Aid claims that,
Tax dodging by unscrupulous companies trading internationally costs developing countries some $160 billion in lost tax revenue every year.
This is about ‘one-and-a-half times the total amount of foreign aid that poor countries receive every year.’