Campaign spotlight: Tax appeal

Christian Aid's campaign against tax dodging by multinational companies

Andy Wilson, campaigns officer for economic justice, Christian Aid

What's the problem?
We have estimated that just one type of tax dodging by multinational companies costs the developing world $160bn (£97bn) a year. If we want countries to come out of poverty sustainably, they need to be able to raise their own revenue and pay for their own public services. In the west, we do this through tax. About 30 per cent of GDP in rich countries comes through tax revenue, but in a typical African country, the revenue is less than 10 per cent.

What's your connection?
I have always been involved in campaigning. I realised that if we don't take up the role as advocates on development issues, especially in the world of finance and big business, there will always be a huge number of people confined to poverty. This is because the system, as it is structured at the moment, is imbalanced.

What are you doing about it?
We have been going around the City, giving awards to the four top accountancy firms. We want to show them that they have a role to play, that they could bring to an end the secrecy of where multinationals are making their profits. A more transparent system of country-by-country reporting would show where multinationals are based, how much profit they are making and how much tax they are paying. It would raise some interesting flags.

How can we get involved?
Become part of the Big Tax Return - go on to the Christian Aid website, and call on the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, to keep knocking on the door of the G20. The British government has been supportive of the idea of greater transparency, but we need to get the rest of the G20 on board.

This article first appeared in the 26 October 2009 issue of the New Statesman, New York / London