Blog

A third of tax dodged in poor countries enough to prevent 8m deaths a year, new Oxfam study reveals

Just a third of the $100bn [approx. €86bn/£78bn] tax that companies dodge in poor countries annually is enough to cover the bill for essential healthcare that could prevent the needless deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children, Oxfam revealed today as it launched a hard-hitting film illustrating the human cost of tax avoidance on the world’s poorest.

Experts estimate that $30bn [approx. €25.8bn/£23bn] is needed each year to pay for basic healthcare such as vaccinations, midwives and diarrhoea treatment that could prevent an average of 7.8m children and 210,000 women dying in 74 countries with large numbers of people living in poverty.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “Tax dodgers may not be literally stealing medicines from the pockets of the poorest but they are depriving poor countries of billions that could be invested in healthcare.

“Oxfam works in some of the poorest countries in the world and sees the impacts of tax dodging every day. For instance, we work in Tanzania which has an annual health budget of just €17 per person. Every medicine that is not bought for the lack of government funds due to tax dodging affects thousands of men, women and children across the world.

“While corporate tax avoidance strips developing countries of vital funds needed for hospitals, millions of the world’s poorest people are missing out on basic medical treatment that could save their lives and help them escape hardship. There can be no excuse for delaying tough action against tax dodging.

“As the EU tax transparency process is at a standstill, the Irish and UK governments should lead the way in helping to ensure companies pay their fair share of taxes everywhere they do business.

“Ireland should agree legislation with its EU partners to ensure that multinationals publically report on a country by country basis where they make their profits and pay their taxes.

“Making this information public will give both policy makers and the public the opportunity to understand how a country’s corporate tax system is actually operating, and provide them with the information to review and change it.

Oxfam is urging the UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond to use next month’s Budget to commit to implementing tougher tax laws for British multinationals, including those that operate in developing countries, by the end of 2019. As movement towards an EU tax transparency deal has stalled, it is calling on him to push ahead and build on the leadership some UK companies have already shown.

More than a year since the Government passed legislation to enable the introduction of comprehensive public country by country reporting for UK-based companies and nearly two years since the last Conservative government agreed the case had been made for the change, it is still no closer to being a reality.

Poor countries are twice as dependent as rich countries on corporate tax revenue as a proportion of the money they have available to buy medicines, pay nurses and pipe clean water to people’s homes. There is evidence to show that when poor countries increase their tax revenue – in particular from corporate and income tax – they spend more on healthcare, leading to healthier populations.

Greater tax transparency would make it easier to verify whether companies’ tax bills are in line with their real economic activity in every country where they do business – and to hold them to account if not.

However, until these public reporting requirements are mandatory for all large businesses, widespread tax avoidance will continue to deprive governments rich and poor of revenue needed to provide essential services and tackle poverty.

ENDS

For more information or interviews please contact Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

 View and/or link through to the film here.

 

Irish Aid’s €2 million pledge to Rohingya crisis welcome - Oxfam Ireland

The decision by Ireland to pledge €2 million in aid to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh is a welcome development Oxfam Ireland has said. The announcement was made at a special donor conference held in Geneva today.

Over half a million Rohingya refugees have crossed over to Bangladesh from Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar since August, and 2,000 more are arriving every day. This is a large scale and escalating humanitarian crisis.

Oxfam Ireland, CEO Jim Clarken said; “This announcement today by Irish Aid is extremely welcome and will help contribute towards the response to this unfolding humanitarian disaster. The Rohingya refugees are living in terrible conditions and need life-saving assistance now, including clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene, essential food and emergency supplies. More than 70% of the newly arrived have no shelter, and only 50% have access to safe drinking water.

Both refugees and communities hosting them need urgent support and Oxfam Ireland has been encouraging donors and governments to act immediately. Existing camps and the ones newly being set up are inadequate to deal with the massive influx resulting in many seeking shelter under open skies, roadsides, and in forest areas with little or no protection.”

Oxfam is responding now and has reached 180,000 people by providing clean drinking water, portable toilets and sanitation facilities, plastic sheets, and other essential supplies. In total, we are planning to reach more than 200,000 people.

To help Oxfam’s response go to https://www.oxfamireland.org/bangladesh

Ends

Daniel English
 
Desk: +353 (0) 1 635 0422
 
Mobile: +353 (0) 86 3544954

 

Race to prevent disease as thousands of Rohingya refugees arrive daily in Bangladesh - Oxfam

Aid workers are in a race against time to stop the rapid spread of disease as thousands of Rohingya people continue to arrive in Bangladesh every day. Oxfam warned that an outbreak of cholera would devastate the camps where hundreds of thousands of people are without safe water, shelter or enough food to eat. 

More than 50,000 newly-arrived Rohingya refugees have been hit by diarrhea, pneumonia, skin disease and acute malnutrition as aid agencies struggle to meet the needs of more than half a million people who have arrived from neighbouring Myanmar since August.

Oxfam engineers are working through torrential rain and floods to install water pumps and tanks, latrines and emergency shelters and have so far provided help to 180,000 people in the over-crowded, ill-equipped camps and ad-hoc settlements of Cox's Bazaar. 

Safe water, food and clean toilets are critical to preventing the outbreak of cholera and many other illnesses that have already affected people living in the camps. Currently, the camps are short of 25,000 toilets, increasing the risk of disease.

Enamul Huque, an Oxfam water and sanitation engineer who has worked for more than 25 years building water systems in the world's biggest refugees camps, including Zaatari, Bidi Bidi and Dadaab, says the crisis is one of the fastest population movements he has ever experienced. 

Huque said: “With more than half a million people having arrived in Bangladesh in less than six weeks, we are working as hard as we can to avert a possible cholera outbreak. Providing people here with lifesaving water and sanitation has been a huge challenge, especially along the Naff peninsula where torrential rains have helped to turn the mud tracks over hilly terrain into clay quagmires.” 

One woman who has recently arrived in the camp told Oxfam about her journey: “I came to Bangladesh about a month ago with my family. I walked for nine days to reach the camps. For three weeks I didn't have clean water or soap to have a shower or even to wash my hands. Yesterday, we got a toilet and a tub, and today we got soap and some food. I am happy, for the first time in weeks I can finally wash my clothes."

The latest shipment of aid dispatched from Oxfam's warehouse in the UK has provided 15 tonnes of water pumps, water tanks and material for construction of emergency latrines to provide water to 35,000 more people. A further two shipments planned will help Oxfam to reach 200,000 more refugees.

The total need for clean water each day is 58 million litres. The existing supply in and around the camps is providing less than a litre of water per person per day – insufficient to meet even their basic needs. 

In addition to providing clean, safe water and toilets, Oxfam and its partners have also been distributing emergency food materials including flattened rice, sugar and high-energy biscuits as well as providing hygiene materials like laundry and toilet soap to over 100,000 people.

Oxfam are urgently appealing for people to donate to their Bangladesh Rohingya Crisis appeal: https://www.oxfamireland.org/bangladesh  

ENDS

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawson@oxfamireland.org

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

Increase in overseas develop aid welcome but Ireland must do more to meet target – Oxfam Ireland

Commitment on equality and gender proofing and consultation on reforming tax policy also welcomed 

10 October 2017

The announcement in today’s budget an increase of €13 million to Ireland’s Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget is a positive step but a clear plan is still needed on how Ireland intends to meet the 0.7% target in ODA spending, Oxfam Ireland said today.

Oxfam Ireland also welcomed the progress made in terms of equality and gender proofing as well as the decision to roll-out a public consultation on reforming Ireland’s corporate tax regime.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said: “Last year, Ireland’s expenditure on its overseas development programme represented just 0.33% of GDP, less than half of the agreed UN target of 0.7%.

“We welcome the announcement in today’s budget of an increase in ODA and we are encouraged by both the Taoiseach’s and Minister Coveney’s stated commitment to reaching the UN target.

We now look forward to Ireland producing a tangible roadmap and timetable detailing how this will be achieved.

Successive opinion polls have shown that the Irish public fully supports meeting the 0.7% target. In addition, achieving our commitment on aid gives Ireland influence in international discussions and shows we keep our promises.”

Oxfam recognised the government's progress in the area of tax reform. “We welcome the announcement of a public consultation process to review Ireland’s tax code and hope this can build on and enhance the findings from the recent report undertaken by Seamus Coffey into addressing corporate tax avoidance which must be addressed for the benefit of both this country and the world’s poorest nations," said Mr Clarken.

“When companies don’t pay their fair share of taxes, it’s the poorest who are hit the hardest, missing out on essential services like healthcare and education. It's important that this process is broad enough to take account of all options.”

On the commitments regarding gender and equality proofing, Mr Clarken continued: "Gender equality should be central to the policy making process and we welcome the steps taken to ensure budgetary choices will reduce inequality and discrimination within our society.”

 

ENDS

Daniel English

Desk: +353 (0) 1 635 0422

Mobile: +353 (0) 86 3544954

Following the announcement of Budget 2018 and this reaction, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued the following: “Mr Coveney corrected a figure presented by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe in his budget speech. The €13 million figure that he announced is the Irish Aid increase but the ODA figure is actually increasing by €26 million.”

Oxfam marks 75 years of mobilising against poverty

Oxfam is marking its 75th anniversary of mobilising against poverty and injustice – including a return to its Greek origins.

Oxfam was set up as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief on 5 October 1942, calling for the Allied blockade in World War II to be relaxed to allow vital food and aid to reach starving people in Greece and elsewhere in Europe.

Since then, Oxfam has played its part in the successes achieved in international development, which have seen half a billion people lifted out of extreme poverty in the last two decades. In last year alone Oxfam helped more than 22 million people worldwide.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “Since being established 75 years ago, Oxfam has grown into a global confederation of 20 affiliates, working in over 90 countries across the world to end poverty and suffering. It has been a remarkable three quarters of a century’s worth of work, providing practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.

“Of course, there have been considerable challenges during that time, due to conflict, violence and natural disaster – challenges which remain to this day. We have responded to numerous humanitarian crises such as famines in East Africa, conflict in Kampuchea, Darfur and Democratic Republic of Congo, the Asian tsunami and recent earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal – to name but a few.

“As well as our emergency responses and long-term development work, we have campaigned to tackle the roots causes of poverty, inequality and injustice, so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them.

"Sadly Oxfam’s history has come full circle and we are working once again where it all began – in Greece, where thousands of families fleeing violence, persecution and poverty are currently stuck in limbo in makeshift tents. Since October 2015, Oxfam has helped over 100,000 people forced to flee their homes with clean water, sanitation, shelter, food, hygiene kits, and safe spaces for vulnerable women and children.

“Just last week we continued our Greek connection by launching the Museum Without a Home exhibition at the Ulster University in Belfast. The exhibition showcased real items donated by the Greek people to refugees arriving there, demonstrating their solidarity with vulnerable people fleeing their homes in search of safety and dignity.

Oxfam can trace its history in Ireland back to the mid-1950s, with one of the earliest records being an article in the Belfast Telegraph about clothing collections for “famine relief” from May 30th, 1957. In the 1960s support for Oxfam really started to grow across the island of Ireland, especially with the introduction of a chain of shops. Then in 1998 Oxfam Ireland became an independent organisation, affiliated within the wider confederation of Oxfam International.

Clarken added: “Oxfam has been supported by people across the island of Ireland for over 60 years, and people here have made invaluable contributions to our work worldwide, playing a significant role in making Oxfam what it is today. Whether it is by volunteering, donating stock or shopping with us in one of our shops; by signing one of our petitions calling for changes in the rules that keep people poor; helping a street collection for our East Africa famine response; or by undertaking a community event such as the Trailtrekker challenge or organising an Oxjam music event as a fundraiser – our supporters throughout Ireland have helped deliver real change to the lives of people affected by poverty.

“We won’t live with poverty – and it’s clear our staff, volunteers and supporters won’t either. We couldn’t do our vital work without them or the support of the public across Ireland. So on behalf of all those many people whose lives have been saved or improved through our work I would like to say a huge thank you.”

We need your help now more than ever. Oxfam is urgently appealing for people to donate to its Saving Lives fund to support those suffering across the world. Let’s bring hope to even more people. Please give what you can today.

Posted In:

Pages