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Cash from tax-dodging ‘could solve world hunger’

17 May 2013

by a staff reporter


Good habits: members of the clergy and religious orders lobby Parliament, in a protest organised by the Roman Catholic agency CAFOD, as part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, on Wednesday

Good habits: members of the clergy and religious orders lobby Parliament, in a protest organised by the Roman Catholic agency CAFOD, as part of the ...

GLOBAL targets for the eradication of hunger could be met by cracking down on tax-dodging by multinational companies in the developing world, Christian Aid has said.

In a report published for Christian Aid Week, the charity says that tackling corporate tax-dodging could provide the £32 billion a year that is needed to achieve a world free from hunger. It calls for a new international convention on tax transparency, and urges the Government, which is chairing the G8 this year, to use its influence to address the problem.

Progress towards halving the number of people who go hungry by 2015 was one of the Millennium Development Goals, but progress has been slow, and the number of people suffering from hunger in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by 36 per cent.

Christian Aid has studied multinational companies that operate in three countries: India, Ghana, and El Salvador. It says that companies with subsidiaries or shareholders in tax havens pay, on average, 28.9 per cent less tax per unit of profit than those without such links. In India, the figure rises to 30.3 per cent.

The most secretive tax haven of all is Switzerland, the report says: "Analysis of trade data shows that developing countries could have lost as much as US$578 billion (£368 bn), between 2007 and 2010, from multi-national companies trading with or via Switzerland. This is far more than the annual estimated US$50.2 billion (£32 bn) cited in a 2012 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report that would be needed to create a world free from hunger by 2025."

Christian Aid Week is the longest-running door-to-door fund-raising initiative in the UK. This year, donations will support particularly the fight against hunger.

The Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, the Rt Revd John Davies, is one of Christian Aid's trustees. "'What shall I have to eat?' is a question most of us will ask at some point each day," he said this week, "and, for most of us, the options are pretty varied. But hunger is the biggest health-risk in the world today. It kills more people worldwide than AIDS, malaria, and TB combined. This is a scandal."

A coalition of Christian charities, Exposed, is campaigning to make global businesses reveal the taxes they pay in different countries, in an effort to reduce tax-avoidance. Led by the Revd Joel Edwards, Exposed is trying to get one million signatures on a petition to hand to the heads of the world's leading economies next year.

Mr Edwards said last week: "Deliberate tax-evasion is a form of corruption, because it results in money lost to an economy - resources which could and should be used to share the load of people living in dire poverty."

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