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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Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?

Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?

Report for Global Justice Now (January 2016)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is the world’s largest charitable organisation, with an asset endowment of $43.5 billion. In global health and agriculture policies, two of its key grant areas, the BMGF has become probably the most influential actor in the world. Bill Gates himself has become probably the single most influential voice in international development. But the BMGF’s increasing global influence is not being subjected to democratic scrutiny. Further, this study shows that the BMGF’s programmes are – overall – detrimental to promoting economic development and global justice. The world is being sold a myth that private philanthropy holds many of the solutions to the world’s problems, when in fact it is pushing the world in many wrong directions.

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TTIPing Away the Ladder: How the EU-US Trade Deal Could Undermine the Sustainable Development Goals

TTIPing Away the Ladder: How the EU-US Trade Deal Could Undermine the Sustainable Development Goals

Report for Trade Justice Movement (September 2015)

The United Nations has developed a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world governments are expected to use to frame their political policies over the next 15 years. At the same time, the world’s two largest trading blocs – the European Union and the United States – are negotiating a major trade pact – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – aimed at achieving ambitious cuts in trade barriers and investment regulations. This briefing argues that these two processes are incompatible and that TTIP could undermine the world’s ability to achieve the SDGs. Developing countries have not been involved in the TTIP negotiations – a scandal in itself – but TTIP will revise trade and investment rules between the US and EU that are very likely to become global standards; these will undermine developing countries by further forcing open their markets to US and European companies.

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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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Three Lessons from the Ebola Crisis for Sierra Leone’s Government and Investors

Three Lessons from the Ebola Crisis for Sierra Leone’s Government and Investors

Report for Budget Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone (January 2015)

The current Ebola crisis has killed or infected thousands of people and caused massive disruptions to peoples’ lives and Sierra Leone’s economy. This briefing argues that the crisis offers three main lessons to the government and companies working in Sierra Leone. The first is that insufficient spending on health has left the country vulnerable to the spread of Ebola. The second is that the government is giving away too much revenue in tax incentives to foreign investors that should be spent on promoting the health of the country’s people. The third is that companies in Sierra Leone receiving those generous tax incentives should now recognise that these are short-sighted, and that their own self-interest lies in contributing greater tax revenues and championing better public services.

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Sierra Leone: Policy Briefs on Health, Education, Water/Sanitation and Social Protection

Sierra Leone: Policy Briefs on Health, Education, Water/Sanitation and Social Protection

Briefings for Budget Advocacy Network Sierra Leone (December 2014)

These briefings highlight the government of Sierra Leone’s commitments in the health, education, water/sanitation and social protection sectors, the challenges facing these sectors and the government’s budgetary spending. They end by making policy recommendations to improve government spending and policy.

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Health Spending, Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Incentives in Malawi

Health Spending, Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Incentives in Malawi

Joint article in Malawi Medical Journal with Bernadette O’Hare (University of St Andrews, Scotland / College of Medicine, University of Malawi) (November 2014)

Malawi suffers from a high disease burden, with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and with more than 1 in 9 children dying before their fifth birthday. This article examines Malawi’s health spending in light of the the revenues it loses through providing tax incentives and through illicit financial flows. Malawi needs to spend around $530 million each year to provide a minimal health package for all its citizens, yet government and donors are spending only around $400 million. At the same time, Malawi is losing nearly $400 million a year from the provision of tax incentives and lost tax income from illicit financial flows out of the country. If these lost revenues were recovered, Malawi could pay for a minimal health package from its own resources. (The weblink to this article is here)

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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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