With everyone’s attention on UK aid spending, the contribution on the Guardian Poverty Matters blog by Jonathan Glennie in relation to Africa’s missing millions and the role of tax havens in it is crucial. However, it is surprising that Jonathan Glennie does not mention the political momentum that is building around the requirement for UK and European companies to disclose all payments – tax and others – to governments. This initiative follows the precedent of the Dodd-Frank Act passed in the US last year requiring country-by-country reporting by all US-listed mining, oil and gas companies.
CAFOD, together with our partners from the global South and other NGOs, has been calling for country-by-country reporting for many years. And we’re also asking the UK government to ensure the UK Bribery Act is implemented without further delay or dilution so that international companies do not fuel the corrupt behaviour of foreign officials by paying bribes.
Making payment disclosure mandatory and combating bribery are crucial steps in tackling poverty, but these do not mean that we should not also continue to ask for sufficient and adequate aid. Aid is essential if we are to ensure that poor communities have the living conditions and skills necessary to hold their own governments to account. Because only when the voices of poor communities are heard, governments in the global South will put the resources gained through economic development and increased transparency to good use and respond to their people’s needs.