George Osborne, the UK Chancellor, was front page news yesterday, receiving positive plaudits from Action Aid and the ONE Campaign, as well as from other organisations also not known for being routinely generous with such public praise.
The story in question centres around how large corporations have skillfully dodged paying taxes to poorer countries in which they conduct business. Osborne used his attendance at a G20 meeting of finance ministers to make UK Govt commitments to a “new agenda of transparency” that will move towards stamping out skillful tax dodging by said corporations.
At the same time, he took the opportunity, quite rightly, to reinforce his government’s own pledge to increase to 0.7% (of GNI – gross national income) the funds it spends on international development programmes around the world.
The argument against increasing this UK “aid” budget has been made time and again since the Conservatives took office nearly 3 years ago, and no doubt Osborne’s piece in the Observer will not go down well with many. Whilst 0.7% is a small percentage compared to other government budgets, it still amounts to tens of millions of pounds of tax payers’ money. All other public sector budgets have been cut and, last year, the UK economy flat-lined, triple dipping back into recession. Continue reading “Raising the bar on tax”