Panama Papers dominate tax discussions during the Spring Meetings

At the close of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meetings in Washington, Chris Stalker, Acting Head of Oxfam International’s Washington office said:

On developments in combating tax havens:

“The initiative to create a global tax platform recognizes the urgent need to fix the broken international tax system through strong global collaboration, but much needs to be done yet. Even though Christine Lagarde said the platform convened by IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the OECD won’t work ‘miracles,’ it must balance the scales between powerful interests and citizens.  We must kick off with a global tax summit, where developing countries play a key role in setting the agenda for further cooperation and reform.  

“We cannot sit and watch the super rich hide their fortunes and starve countries of the funds they need to pay for education, health, and other social services needed to fight poverty and inequality. Piecemeal solutions, like the plan proposed by European ministers, will fall short in the long run and continue to let tax cheats skip out on paying their fair share.

“We’re surprised by the IFC’s reaction to our report on how their investments often go to companies using tax havens. This would have been a great moment to commit to a review of their current clients and stronger measures to prevent the potential misuse of their funds in the future.”

On the discussion on women in the workforce:

“To hear David Lipton, the IMF’s number two, agree with Oxfam and talk about how in some places the laws are literally ‘rigged’ against women working was a positive moment during a very good discussion. However, the IMF needs to practice what they preach; we are glad to hear Lipton recognize that, with only one woman in an Executive Board of 24, they are far from achieving gender equality in their own leadership.”

On the World Bank’s social and environmental protections:

“Jim Kim’s continued public silence on the review of their safeguard policies is worrisome. We're concerned that the process is being dominated by political disputes between different governments, at the expense of the rights of vulnerable communities that the policies are meant to protect.

“We heard from its internal watchdog on how the Bank still fails to take basic steps to protect communities displaced by its projects; these new protections are critically needed to make sure families aren’t pushed out of their lands and into poverty in the name of ‘development.’”

On the World Bank’s announcement regarding girl’s education:

“We’re always excited to see girl’s education takes the spotlight, as it did when Jim Kim and Michelle Obama shared the stage on Wednesday. We hope the Bank’s announced investment goes towards helping governments provide free and quality public education, as this is one of the best ways to combat poverty and gender inequality. This money should not go to so-called low-cost private schools, which burden poor families with more things to worry about having to pay for.”

On the World Bank’s climate change policies:

“The droughts, heatwaves, and super storms caused by climate change threaten the lives of millions, and especially those in poor parts of the world. It’s good to hear Jim Kim talk about making renewable energy cheaper, but we didn’t hear this from many other Bank officials. The Bank must take the lead in helping the poorest, who in many cases don’t have electricity at all, access clean and renewable sources of power.”

Contact information

Simon Hernandez-Arthur in Washington, D.C.

simon.hernandezarthur@oxfaminternational.org

+1 585 503 4568

@SimonHernandez

 

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