Increasing Global Education Financing: Bold and Credible Pledges to Achieve Sustainable Change

Increasing Global Education Financing: Bold and Credible Pledges to Achieve Sustainable Change

Briefing for Global Campaign for Education (June 2017, published online October 2017)

Developing country governments have committed to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030, but to achieve this requires greater education spending: to at least 4-6% of GDP and 15-20% of national total budgets. Currently, low-income countries allocate an average of 16.7% of their national budgets to education (Sub-Saharan Africa 16.6%; South Asia 15.3%). UNESCO estimates that government spending on education by low-income countries will need to increase by 50% as a share of GDP by 2030. Governments can and must increase resources allocated to education, and ensure that this funding is spent equitably and effectively to secure the right to free, quality education. This briefing analyses why and how they should do this. Domestic resources to finance this extra education spending can be found. In particular, developing countries should expand their tax bases in progressive ways to ensure that they are raising at least 20% of their GDP in tax revenues. Currently, low-income countries raise on average around 16%, compared to around 33% in OECD countries.

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European Development Finance Institutions and Allegations of Land Grabs:  The Need for Further Independent Scrutiny

European Development Finance Institutions and Allegations of Land Grabs: The Need for Further Independent Scrutiny

Report for FERN (September 2017)

This study highlights the role of European Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) in alleged land grabs and questionable forestry projects in Africa. It documents nine such cases involving eight of the European DFIs. It raises the urgent need for more independent research into these projects and the need for much more scrutiny of the investment portfolios of the DFIs, including by the DFIs themselves and by national parliaments.

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Lost Revenues in Low Income Countries

Lost Revenues in Low Income Countries

Report with Dr Bernadette O’Hare (July 2017)

This research estimates how much revenue six low income countries – of which five are in sub Saharan Africa – are losing unnecessarily from various potential revenue streams that could be used to fund public services. Developing countries can lose revenue in a variety of ways. Here we estimate how much is being lost from the following sources:
Tax avoidance by multinational companies; Providing tax incentives (for example, reductions or exemptions from the payment of corporate taxes) which constitute government ‘tax expenditure’; Not collecting taxes from a proportion of business activity in the informal sector; Corruption in the national budget; and Debt interest payments to international creditors. The research finds that revenue losses are large in all countries, which has significant implications for development. The priorities for low income countries are to end corporate tax avoidance, reduce corruption and raise tax collections. These areas are far more important than aid inflows: The six countries under analysis are losing 6.4% – 12.9% of their GDP; In most cases, this amounts to more than the combined national health and education budgets, meaning that expenditure on these areas could more than double; Revenue losses are larger than aid in two of the six countries and over 60% of the amount of aid in a further three.

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Honest Accounts 2017: How the world profits from Africa’s wealth

Honest Accounts 2017: How the world profits from Africa’s wealth

Report for group of NGOs led by Global Justice Now, Jubilee Debt Coalition & Health Poverty Action (May 2017)

Research for this report calculates the movement of financial resources into and out of Africa and some key costs imposed on Africa by the rest of the world. We find that the countries of Africa are collectively net creditors to the rest of the world, to the tune of $41.3 billion in 2015. Thus much more wealth is leaving the world’s most impoverished continent than is entering it. African countries received $161.6 billion in 2015 – mainly in loans, personal remittances and aid in the form of grants. Yet $203 billion was taken from Africa, either directly – mainly through corporations repatriating profits and by illegally moving money out of the continent – or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change.

  • African countries receive around $19 billion in aid in the form of grants but over three times that much ($68 billion) is taken out in capital flight, mainly by multinational companies deliberately misreporting the value of their imports or exports to reduce tax.
  • While Africans receive $31 billion in personal remittances from overseas, multinational companies operating on the continent repatriate a similar amount ($32 billion) in profits to their home countries each year.
  • African governments received $32.8 billion in loans in 2015 but paid $18 billion in debt interest and principal payments, with the overall level of debt rising rapidly.
  • An estimated $29 billion a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and the trade in wildlife/plants.

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Development Finance Institutions and Responsible Corporate Tax Behaviour

Development Finance Institutions and Responsible Corporate Tax Behaviour

Report for Oxfam IBIS (Denmark) and other NGOs (November 2016)

This report, written with Sara Jespersen of Oxfam IBIS, finds that Development Finance Institutions (DFI) are not doing enough to avoid becoming accomplices in harmful corporate tax practices. It highlights the role DFIs should play in promoting responsible tax practices by companies. DFIs are largely failing to use their influence as investors in companies operating in developing countries to ensure that those companies restrict or eliminate their use of tax havens or to reduce the risk of corporate tax avoidance. While others have taken important steps forward. There is a particular need for DFIs to play this role, given the scale of global tax dodging, the fact that DFIs largely use public money and since DFI investments in developing countries are significantly increasing.

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