World Bank and IMF must help bring an end to tax havens

Published: 12th April 2016

Following the abuses revealed in the Panama Papers, world leaders attending the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund this week must seize the moment to take decisive action and help end the era of tax havens, said Oxfam today.

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: “The scale of the injustice revealed is an outrage. As we’ve seen time and time again, tax havens deprive countries of the revenue needed to fund vital public services like health and education. Without quality, functioning services, millions find it impossibly hard to escape poverty.

“We cannot afford to spend more time on talk and rhetoric with no effective results. Government ministers meeting in Washington this week should agree to host a global tax summit to discuss concrete solutions to crack down on tax havens - like the creation of a public registry of real owners, corporations and trusts, and automatic tax information-sharing between countries.

"Crucially, we must now begin to lay the groundwork for a second generation of global tax reforms that goes beyond BEPS. The IMF and the World Bank have a responsibility in making this happen."

Oxfam also revealed this week how 84% of investments made by World Bank’s private sector arm in Sub-Saharan Africa last year went to companies that use tax havens. 

Gender equality is high on Oxfam’s agenda at the Spring Meetings, since the Bank and the IMF’s policies on issues including taxation, healthcare, education have significant impacts on the lives of girls and women in developing countries.

“The leaders of the World Bank and the IMF both speak out passionately on the importance of empowering girls and women - now we need to see this urgency in all of the work that their institutions do,” said Byanyima.

“Supporting free hospitals, clinics, and schools in developing countries is vital to give girls and women equal opportunities. When poor families can’t afford to pay the fees to send their children to school, it's girls who are too often told to stay home. Without free healthcare, it's women who often step up and stay home to care for sick family members. Decision makers meeting in Washington must hear this message loud and clear.”

Oxfam’s team of policy experts at the Spring Meetings will also be tracking the World Bank’s review of its social and environmental protections, the transparency of its investments into other banks and funds, and new commitments in the fight against climate change and the refugee crisis.

Notes to editors

Oxfam experts on a range of issues including tax, gender inequality, and land and environmental safeguards, will be available for interview and briefings.  

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International will be in Washington DC and available for interview.

Contact information

Simon Hernandez-Arthur in Washington, D.C.

+1 585 503 4568



For updates please follow @OxfamIFIs