Eritreans Exploited: UK Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Abuses

Eritreans Exploited: UK Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Abuses

Report for War on Want (January 2017, published online October 2017)

Eritrea’s totalitarian state is extreme and includes a ratified Constitution that hasn’t been implemented; the absence of national elections since independence from Ethiopia in 1991; its Parliament does not meet; the President, Isaisa Afwerki rules without institutional restraint; the government owns all media; and non-governmental organisations are not permitted. Much of Eritrea’s foreign exchange income comes from foreign gold and copper mining company projects in which the Eritrean government holds a 40% stake. The state control of these revenues is enhanced by the complete lack of mining revenue transparency in the country, a fact that has been persistently documented in various UN reports. There are several ways in which Britain is connected to Eritrean mining, thereby being complicit in the practices of this repressive regime. This includes not just the mining companies involved in exploration in the country, but the financial institutions that have invested in UK and other mining companies operating in Eritrea.

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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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The One Billion Dollar Question: Revisited

The One Billion Dollar Question: Revisited

Report for Norwegian Church Aid (May 2017)

In 2012, the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, National Muslim Council of Tanzania and the Christian Council of Tanzania jointly published a report written by Curtis Research which estimated that Tanzania was losing revenues of between $847 million and $1.3 billion a year from a mix of tax evasion, tax incentives and capital flight. New research presented here shows that Tanzania continues to lose a vast amount of resources every year – in fact, these losses are if anything increasing. The research estimates that Tanzania is now losing around $1.83 billion a year from tax incentives, illicit capital flight, the failure to tax the informal sector and other tax evasion. The country is losing a further $1.3 billion (TShs 2.9 trillion) from corruption in the national budget, which diverts resources away from funding critical public services.

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The New Colonialism: Britain’s Scramble for Africa’s Energy and Mineral Resources

The New Colonialism: Britain’s Scramble for Africa’s Energy and Mineral Resources

Report for War on Want (July 2016)

This report reveals the degree to which British companies now control Africa’s key mineral resources. It reviews the operations of all the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) that have mining interests in Africa, focusing on key minerals and metals such as gold, platinum, diamonds, copper, oil, gas and coal. It finds that 101 companies have mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries. These companies, which are mainly British, now control an identified $1.05 trillion worth of resources in Africa in just five commodities — oil, gold, diamonds, coal and platinum. Of the 101 LSE-listed companies, one quarter are incorporated in tax havens. A determination to plunder the natural resources of Africa is taking place, with the active support of the British government; this is contributing significantly to a net drain of resources from Africa, already the world’s poorest continent.

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The Need for Model Mining Legislation: Case studies on the impact of mining in Angola, DRC, Kenya and Zimbabwe

The Need for Model Mining Legislation: Case studies on the impact of mining in Angola, DRC, Kenya and Zimbabwe

Report for International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA) (May 2016)

Africa is rich in natural resources, with significant deposits of gold, platinum, iron ore, copper, diamonds, and many other minerals and metals. Yet Africa’s people benefit little from these riches and African governments typically capture only a small share of the final value of the vast mineral exports from the continent. Even worse, many communities in mining areas – usually farmers who are already poor – are often left worse off as a result of mining operations. This report presents new research from mining operations in four countries – Zimbabwe, Angola, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo – and highlights ongoing problems and adverse human rights impacts from industrial mining. The report calls for and proposes model mining legislation to ensure that governments transform policies and laws to make African mining support the rights and needs of its people.

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Improving South Africa’s Mining Revenues and Transparency

Improving South Africa’s Mining Revenues and Transparency

Report for Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA, South Africa (October 2015)

Taxes from mining contribute significantly to South Africa’s economy. Yet the country’s mining sector is insufficiently transparent while companies’ use of tax havens increases the risk of illegal tax evasion and tax avoidance. Together with generous tax incentives given to mining companies, the effect is to reduce revenues to the state. There is a growing sense in South Africa that the minerals in the ground belong to the people and that they should contribute even more to national economic development. This briefing suggests that South Africa could and should raise more revenue from mining by taking action nationally and internationally to review its tax policies and help break open the financial secrecy of tax havens.

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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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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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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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