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Sebastien Nkoa

By Sébastien Nkoa Ayissi, OP, Cameroonian economist, banker, and student of Theology at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, and SNDatUN delegate to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

“I have never seen such a conference like this one of Addis Ababa, negotiations are so tense and intense that we are almost closing the conference without any agreement”, declared one member of an official delegation who required not to be mentioned. Will this really happen? That is the question on the lips of all delegates. The fact is that it is all about taxes.

Indeed in the latest draft, Heads of State and governments and heads of delegations are arguing on paragraphs 27-28-29. Basically the draft proposes the creation of an international tax corporation. So the question I try to answer today is: what is at stake if an international tax corporation is scaled up? In order to answer that question let us consider three major elements. The first one is related to the report made by the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa which revealed that LDCs and in particular Africa lose each year almost 150 trillion US dollars due to IFF. That money leaves LDCs through tax evasion, tax avoidance, and various other similar means. If we compare figures, LDCs needs almost 160 trillion US dollar in order to eradicate poverty by 2030. Basic mathematics shows us that if the issue of IFF is solved many other propositions such as ODA (official development aid) will no longer be necessary since the purpose because of which they have been scaled up has been solved.

Now let us move to the second step of our analysis by saying that why is it that such a good mechanism which at once will solve the matter because of which we are all gathered since Monterrey to Addis Ababa through Doha is not welcomed? The answer is because that issue is addressed to big international multinational corporations and firms. Without naming them we all know that these big multinational corporation and firms have developed world wide systems to evade taxes to avoid paying them and even more to fight any topic related to tax. This is a fundamentally wrong practice since as we know taxes are set up for social and public benefit. Taxes are used to improve life in various domains sectors and areas. Taxes collected are used to build roads, schools, hospitals, assure energy and water supply, pay salaries, guaranty social security. Here the secondary question is: is it ethical to have team of hundred of people who work hard day and night to build up a system to avoid paying tax or to evade it? This is not acceptable.

CKCNvoSWUAA_Jw-Since it is not acceptable, LDCs, SIDCs, LLDCs stand together as one to say “NO.” And that is the reason why that point is so controversial here in Addis. And this takes us to the last point of our reflection and the answer to our question. What is at stake if an international tax corporation is scaled up? The answer is: interest of international firms, corporations and companies. That is what is at stake, interests of few are heavier than interests of majority. Their interests are at stake since they will be forced to pay taxes wherever they are, they won’t have any other place under this planet where to hide themselves or hide stolen assets. And this is where the fight is, LDCs, LLDCs, SIDCs will at least benefit from the system, they will be given what they deserve, they won’t have any more need to address international community seeking for help since FDI (foreign direct investment) represent only 10 trillion US dollar and let’s remember above figures: 150 trillion US dollars stolen, 160 US dollars needed and finally 10 trillion US dollars given as FDI and ODA. At this point I would like to correct my previous sentence and put it the way: what is at stake are the rights of those who are stolen all over the world by multinational companies. Since those people who are called poor are actually not poor at all, their resources are stolen from them by few people who now control the system and don’t want justice to be rendered.

What else can we say now? Today is the last day of the conference; tension is very high and can be felt in the air here in UN-ECA, will Addis Ababa be a failure? Let’s wait and see, the next 24 hours will tell us.


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