DFID’s Controversial Support for Private Education

DFID’s Controversial Support for Private Education

(September 2015)

Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is increasingly funding and supporting private education in developing countries. Indeed, it has become the world’s leading bilateral donor in promoting not only ‘low cost’ private schools but also in promoting the role of multinational companies as funders of education in developing countries. This report documents how DFID is promoting an increasing role for the private sector in education in three main ways: by promoting an enhanced role for multinationals in funding education; by funding a range of private education providers and ‘low-cost’ private schools in other bilateral projects; and by funding research and dissemination of information on private education and aiming to change government policies

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The West African Giveaway: Use and Abuse of Corporate Tax Incentives in ECOWAS

The West African Giveaway: Use and Abuse of Corporate Tax Incentives in ECOWAS

Report for ActionAid International (August 2015)

Curtis Research part-wrote and contributed research to this report, which examines the use of tax incentives in West Africa, focusing on Nigeria and Ghana. Corporate tax incentives are fiscal provisions offered to investors, and include reduced corporate tax rates or full ‘holidays’, permitting companies to pay less tax on their profits than normal, or to benefit from reduced or no tax on services such as water, electricity or land. Tax incentives are used by governments in the belief that they will help attract foreign direct investment into their countries, but evidence shows this to be rarely the case. The analysis shows that Ghana is likely losing up to $2.3 billion a year, Nigeria around $2.9 billion and Senegal (in 2009 at least) up to $639 million. If the rest of ECOWAS lost revenues at similar percentages of their GDP, total revenue losses among the 15 ECOWAS states would amount to $9.6 billion a year.

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Profiting from Poverty, Again: DFID’s Support for Privatising Education and Health

Profiting from Poverty, Again: DFID’s Support for Privatising Education and Health

Report for Global Justice Now (April 2015)

Britain’s overseas aid programme is being reconfigured to promote the privatisation of education and health in developing countries. The Department for International Development (DFID) has become the world’s leading donor in spearheading a push for profit making companies to manage and deliver schooling and health care in Africa and Asia. British taxpayers’ money is increasingly being used to pave the way for private companies to access new markets in basic services and thus to profit from the current gaps in the public provision of these services. This briefing exposes DFID’s strategy and warns of the dangers to the real need – which is to ensure better public education and health services that genuinely serve poor people.

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Take Action: Stop EcoEnergy’s Land Grab in Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Take Action: Stop EcoEnergy’s Land Grab in Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Report for ActionAid International (March 2015)

Rural communities in the Bagamoyo district of Tanzania are opposing a much-lauded sugar cane plantation project planned by EcoEnergy, a Swedish-owned company that has secured a lease of over 20,000 hectares of land for the next 99 years and which is about to push smallholder producers off their land. Although the company has conducted consultations with affected villagers, this research found the majority have not been offered the choice of whether to be resettled or not, and have not been given crucial information about the irreversible effects the project may have on their livelihoods and their rights to food and land. By failing to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities in the area affected by the project, EcoEnergy is grabbing the land of these communities, or risks doing so. EcoEnergy’s plan to develop a sugar cane plantation is a flagship project of the increasingly controversial New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the G8’s African agriculture initiative.

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Moving Backwards or Forwards? Norway’s Approach to Responsible Investment

Moving Backwards or Forwards? Norway’s Approach to Responsible Investment

Report for Forum for Environment and Development (Norway) (October 2014)

In 2013, the Norwegian government began to lobby for certain ‘clarifications’ to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – the main principles that encourage companies from OECD states to behave responsibly. This lobbying followed an investigation into Norway’s giant Pension Fund related to its investment in South Korean steel manufacturer Posco, which concluded that the Fund had violated the OECD Guidelines. Posco’s project in Odisha, India, is threatening to displace 22,000 people and has been condemned by no less than eight UN special rapporteurs. This report analyses Norway’s stance towards the Guidelines and recommends how the Pension Fund should improve its human rights due diligence.

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Honest Accounts? The True Story of Africa’s Billion Dollar Losses

Honest Accounts? The True Story of Africa’s Billion Dollar Losses

Report for Health Poverty Action, War on Want, World Development Movement, Jubilee Debt Campaign and others (July 2014)

This report is a first comprehensive attempt to measure the financial flows in and out of sub-Saharan Africa. It shows that Africa is being drained of resources, losing far more each year than it receives. While $134 billion flows into the continent each year (mainly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid) $192 billion is taken out (mainly in profits repatriated by multinational companies, tax dodging and the costs of adapting to climate change). The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of $58 billion a year. Thus the idea that we are aiding Africa is flawed; it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world. While we are led to believe that aid from the UK and other rich countries is a mark of our generosity, the research shows that wealthy countries benefit from many of Africa’s losses.

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Losing Out: Sierra Leone’s massive revenue losses from tax incentives

Losing Out: Sierra Leone’s massive revenue losses from tax incentives

Report for Budget Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone (April 2014)

This report analyses Sierra Leone’s ‘tax expenditure’ – i.e., the amount of revenues lost by the government’s granting of tax incentives and exemptions. Using figures obtained from the National Revenue Authority, the report estimates that the government lost revenues worth $224 million in 2012, amounting to an enormous 8.3 per cent of GDP. In 2011, losses were even higher – 13.7 per cent of GDP. The massive rise in revenue losses since 2009 is the result of tax incentives granted to the mining sector. The report estimates that the government will lose revenues of $131 million in the three years 2014-16 alone from corporate income tax incentives granted to five mining companies. Tax expenditures could instead be spent on improving education and health services, investing in agriculture and in providing social protection to vulnerable groups. Yet in 2011 the government spent more on tax incentives than on its development priorities. In 2012, tax expenditure amounted to an astonishing 59 per cent of the entire government budget – over 8 times the health budget and 7 times the education budget.

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Who Is Benefitting? The Social and Economic Impact of Three Large-Scale Land Investments in Sierra Leone

Who Is Benefitting? The Social and Economic Impact of Three Large-Scale Land Investments in Sierra Leone

Report by Action for Large-Scale Land Acquisition Transparency in Sierra Leone (July 2013)

Curtis Research contributed to this report, researching and writing section 6 and the Annex. This is an analysis of the revenue losses resulting from the large tax concessions the government of Sierra Leone is giving to agribusiness companies. The report calculates that Sierra Leone will lose around $188 million over 10 years in tax exemptions granted to three agribusiness investors alone – Addax Bioenergy, Socfin and Goldtree. The rest of the report examines the social and economic impact of large-scale land acquisitions managed by Addax, Socfin and Sierra Leone Agriculture.

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Malawi’s Mining Opportunity: Increasing Revenues, Improving Legislation

Malawi’s Mining Opportunity: Increasing Revenues, Improving Legislation

Report for Norwegian Church Aid-Malawi and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace-Malawi (July 2013)

This report analyses Malawi’s tax revenues from mining, focusing on how legislation can be improved to ensure that Malawians benefit more from the country’s natural resources. The report finds that although mining makes up around 10 per cent of Malawi’s exports, it contributes less than 1 per cent of its total revenue. Tax incentives given to mining companies are costing Malawi at least 8 times more than the revenues received; a loss that could cover 60 per cent of the costs of the Ministry of Health.

The company managing the largest mining project in the country – Australian uranium miner, Paladin – has been given extensive tax incentives, meaning that it is paying very little in tax. Revenue losses to Malawi from the tax regime given to Paladin are calculated at $205–281 million over the 13 years of the project. It is encouraging that the government is committed to revising the mining legislation, but progress is slow and the currently proposed revision of the Mines and Minerals Act is little better than the existing Act.

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The UK Energy-Finance-Government Nexus

The UK Energy-Finance-Government Nexus

(May 2013)

This briefing, based on research commissioned by the World Development Movement, outlines the role played by British companies in controversial energy projects in developing countries. It shows the nexus of interests, and revolving door, between these companies and former and current civil servants and Ministers. Many British companies currently promoting dirty energy projects are managed or advised by former British officials. Furthermore, senior executives in these companies serve on government-linked advisory boards which shape the UK’s financial and trade policies. The nexus goes to the heart of government. Several Cabinet ministers have past or present links to the energy or finance companies under analysis.

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