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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Making Tax Vanish: A tax investigation into RB

Making Tax Vanish: A tax investigation into RB

Report for Oxfam (July 2017)

Curtis Research provided research for this Oxfam investigation into British consumer goods multinational, RB (Reckitt Benckiser). Big business is able to take advantage of loopholes in global tax laws and avoid tax on a massive scale. This deprives governments around the world of the money they need to tackle poverty and inequality. It means there is less for them to invest in healthcare, education and jobs. This report examines the failings of the global tax system that facilitate mass tax avoidance. It looks at one example of a multinational company that Oxfam thinks is not paying its fair share. It calls on governments and business to implement the reforms that are needed to stop MNCs from avoiding paying their fair share of tax in the future.

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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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How governments are failing on the right to education

How governments are failing on the right to education

Report for ActionAid (April 2017)

This report is based on findings from citizens’ education reports in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nepal, where extensive research was conducted in schools. It assesses the extent to which children, especially girls, are accessing good quality primary education. The findings, while showing some positive progress, are extremely concerning. They show that:
• Governments are not investing enough to ensure a quality education for the next generation, and are largely failing in their duty to promote the right to education.
• Governments are also largely failing to meet the education commitments they have signed up to in international fora.
• The consequence is that few children are receiving a quality education. It is girls who often lose out most: girls are more likely to be victims of violence and abuse in school, often do less well in school examinations and are enduring extremely poor school sanitation facilities that are not conducive to a quality learning environment.

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Tanzania Citizens’ Education Report

Tanzania Citizens’ Education Report

Report for ActionAid (February 2017)

This Citizens’ Education Report identifies the extent to which Tanzania’s children, especially girls, are accessing good quality primary education, and recommends improvements, notably in government policies. It is based on extensive collaborative research among communities and school stakeholders in 30 schools in two districts, Kilwa and Singida.

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Nepal Citizens’ Education Report

Nepal Citizens’ Education Report

Report for ActionAid (February 2017)

This Citizen’s Education Report, witten with ActionAid Nepal, identifies the extent to which Nepal’s children, especially girls, are accessing good quality primary education, and recommends improvements, notably in government policies. It is based on extensive collaborative research among communities and school stakeholders in 25 project schools in two districts, Kailali and Doti, located in western Nepal. The task of improving primary education in Nepal is urgent since, as the research has found, few children are receiving a good quality education despite some progress in recent years.

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Still Invisible: The Plight of Syrian Women in Lebanon and Iraq

Still Invisible: The Plight of Syrian Women in Lebanon and Iraq

Report for Islamic Relief (April 2017)

Six months ago, in September 2016, Islamic Relief released Invisible Lives, a report outlining the plight of Syrian women in Lebanon and the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. It described the lack of good employment opportunities, the prevalence of gender-based violence in communities and the workplace and extremely limited access to good education for children, including girls. Six months on, ahead of another international conference on Syria, the UN has launched new aid appeals and strategies for Lebanon and Iraq. But what has changed? Is the international community now delivering? Are women refugees receiving more and better support? Are their lives improving?

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Domestic Tax and Education

Domestic Tax and Education

Report for ActionAid and International Commission on Financing Global Education (November 2016)

This report, part-written by Curtis Research, outlines how increased taxation in developing countries should fund public education. The task is urgent given that 121 million primary or lower secondary age children are out of school while 250 million children who are in school but not learning. Many tax incentives provided by developing country governments cause far more harm than good. First, and most importantly, they can massively reduce government revenues by removing the requirement for companies to pay fair levels of tax. Second, they can encourage corruption and secrecy when negotiated in highly discretionary ‘special deals’ with individual companies. Third, they mainly attract ‘footloose’ firms which move their investments from one country to another, and therefore do not encourage stable long term investments. Fourth, where they favour foreign investors, they can disadvantage domestic investors and deter them from entering markets or expanding. The ostensible reason for governments providing tax incentives to business is to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), yet the evidence suggests that tax incentives are not needed to attract FDI. There are four types of incentives that are particularly problematic: discretionary incentives, tax holidays, tax incentives in free trade zones and stability agreements. Developing countries are estimated to lose US$139 billion a year just from one form of tax incentive – corporate income tax exemptions. This could easily fill the annual global finance gap for basic education.

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Hotter Planet, Humanitarian Crisis: El Niño, the ‘New Normal’ and the Need for Climate Justice

Hotter Planet, Humanitarian Crisis: El Niño, the ‘New Normal’ and the Need for Climate Justice

Report for ActionAid (November 2016)

The world is enduring an unprecedented combination of climate related crises. We are living through what will almost certainly be the hottest year on record, and have faced one of the strongest El Niño weather events of all time. In 2016, the Earth has recorded the highest ever level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are set to rise still further. The 2015-16 El Niño may yet prove to have caused the biggest drought that the world has ever seen and many countries are enduring their worst droughts in decades, affecting hundreds of millions of people. The Paris Agreement on climate change was celebrated with much fanfare less than a year ago, but the lack of an adequate response to the global El Niño drought shows that the world is not yet willing or able to respond properly to an actual climate crisis. The report argues that the world must now act to further cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that, since climate-induced extreme weather events are likely to become the “new normal,” far greater efforts are needed to prevent these from becoming humanitarian crises. Governments, donors, climate and humanitarian agencies must work together to prepare for and respond to an increasingly climate-chaotic world.

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