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Give poor a voice, campaign urges

18 October 2013

by a staff reporter


"We are prepared to share whatever we have": the Revd Jacob Wandusim, District Minister for Tamale, Northern Presbyterian Church in Ghana, features in Christian Aid's tax resources for churches 

"We are prepared to share whatever we have": the Revd Jacob Wandusim, District Minister for Tamale, Northern Presbyterian Church in Ghana, feat...

A GLOBAL campaign to end corruption is calling on governments, businesses, and church leaders to "stop patronising the poor" and include them in discussions about creating a fairer world.

The campaign Exposed, an international coalition of Christian groups and charities, was formed last year. Its week of action was launched this week with an open letter and a vigil at St Paul's Cathedral.

Speaking at the vigil on Sunday, the Methodist minister the Revd Lord Griffiths said: "Our job is to see that we overcome evil with good. We expose the evil for what it is, and then set our targets for overcoming that evil. I believe that this campaign is part of an orchestrated effort on behalf of good-willed people around the world to see that we have the kind of world that God wants us to live in."

Everyone attending the vigil received a $1-trillion note, representing the amount that is paid globally in bribes each year. Up to 2000 vigils across the world were planned to mark the week of action, including one at the White House, in Washington, D.C.

To mark the week of action, Exposed published an open letter, in which it said: "We understand that rich nations want to collect missing tax because times are hard. But poor nations . . . need to be part of the discussions to ensure equity.

"Consensus on financial transparency is vital, as is international collaboration to ensure that corruption in all its forms is exposed and dealt with. But the poor can't wait for years of deliberation and diplomacy. . . This is not just about 'rich countries' making changes to improve their tax income, or making improvements which may, eventually, benefit 'poor countries'. It is about justice. The time has come to stop patronising the poor."

Government, financial, and business institutions, and church leaders are asked to step up their efforts to make the world a fairer place, but must not forget "those who are most affected by greed and abuse of public influence - the poorest people of our world".

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, this week promoted Christian Aid's campaign for greater tax transparency, to help uncover "phantom firms". The charity wants the Government to ensure that public registers are created which reveal the true owners of phantom firms.

"No one likes paying taxes," Dr Morgan said, "but they are the bedrock of a fairer and more equal society, both here in Wales and in developing countries. Tax-dodging, particularly through the set up of phantom companies, drives poverty and injustice."

Christian Aid has published new resources to help churches to debate the issues around tax-dodging. The churches resources manager at Christian Aid, Claire Aston, said: "We want churches to recognise that the hard questions Jesus asked about taxation are just as relevant to us today."

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