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At the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa this week, the issue of international cooperation to address ‘tax dodging’ and illicit flows will be higher up the agenda than ever before. Credit for this is due in no small part to the various non-governmental organizations that have built up public consciousness and pressure through sustained campaigns focused on the tax affairs of multinational companies.
Here’s an obvious truth: tax lost to trade misinvoicing in Africa does not equal tax lost to transfer mispricing by multinational corporations in Sierra Leone, which does not equal lost health-care spending. Unfortunately, a policy paper released on Tuesday by Oxfam makes exactly these equivalences. This sort of imprecision is widespread, and it’s not going to help the poor.
Taxation, which has been a Cinderella subject in development, has finally been invited to the ball, but the arguments that have helped to push taxation up the finance-for-development agenda may also be in need of clarification.
On April 25, the Philippine government launched Version 2.0 of its Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH). FAiTH records all foreign aid and assistance, in pledges, cash, and non-cash donations, given to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. The portal offers detailed information, by donor. Information can be accessed online or downloaded for further analysis. As of today, FAiTH indicates that the government has received $762 million in foreign assistance, of which $248 million is cash and $514 is in-kind assistance. The total amount of cash received by the government, including from domestic sources, is $336 million.