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The OECD DAC Senior Level Meeting and the long road to inclusion for civil society

Eurodad, Erin Palomares, Julie Seghers

19 Jun 2017 13:03:36

As members of the Reality of Aid network, which brings together Southern and Northern civil society groups spanning some 17 time zones, we are no strangers to the challenges of convening inclusive meetings about the need for more and better aid. The “lost connection” icon on trans-continental conference calls is a familiar, if frustrating, part of our lives, as it will be for many of you.   But when it comes to convening meetings with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC), there was until recently an even greater obstacle to communication: we just weren’t invited. That’s why we were so pleased when the DAC said it planned to engage more systematically with stakeholders such as civil society – a move spearheaded ...

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World Environment Day: a good time to reflect on unintended consequences

Martin Atkin

04 Jun 2017 22:15:36

Few would disagree with protecting our fragile and increasingly under-pressure environment, nor with the joys of getting back to nature - especially since more than half of us are now urban dwellers. This year’s World Environment Day urges us to reconnect to the natural world around us, suggesting a stroll in the park or a day on the beach - if you are lucky enough to live near one. As the organisers point out, we are all part of nature and we all intimately depend on it. The call to reconnect with nature will, however, have a hollow ring for countless people in developing countries whose own natural resources and livelihoods have been put at risk by harmful business practices and investments. You don’t have to look far to find examples of communities and ecosystems suffering from the ...

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Blended finance and the new aid rules: a risky mix?

Maria Romero, Polly Meeks

01 Jun 2017 09:40:01

Last week’s UN Financing for Development Forum showed that blended finance – using aid money to mobilise finance from other sources, especially the private sector – continues to top the agenda for many of the big players in development finance.  In fact, upcoming decisions in Paris and Brussels are likely to confirm blending as a much bigger part of Official Development Assistance (ODA) than ever before.  In Paris, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) will shortly decide on new aid rules that allow greater official support to the private sector, including blending, to be counted as ODA.  Meanwhile in Brussels, the European Commission is currently in the process of negotiating with the European Parliament ...

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UN Financing for Development Forum: private sector eats cake while developing countries fight for crumbs.

Bodo Ellmers

31 May 2017 10:21:08

Last week’s United Nations’ Financing for Development Forum in New York was notable for being the first major event to admit in a formal outcome document that at the current pace, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be reached. The Forum - which deals with all aspects of finance and the financial architecture that regulates finance - planned to push reforms that would make finance work for development. Progress was meagre however, as political blockages still need to be overcome.   The outcome document of the 2017 Financing for Development (FfD) Forum paints an alarming picture: “The current global trajectory will not deliver the goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions by 2030”. A key reason is the lack of adequate funding for the SDGs. While there ...

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Countdown to the 2017 UN Financing for Development Forum

Bodo Ellmers

04 May 2017 10:12:45

In less than three weeks, governments, CSOs and international organizations gather at the UN in New York for the Financing for Development Forum. The forum takes place in crucial times as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals faces severe financial constraints. Governments’ self-inflicted inability to raise sufficient taxes paired with rich countries’ unwillingness to provide sufficient aid means that development is all too often financed by borrowed money, a dilemma that is aggravated by new donor initiatives that even turn the limited grants into new debt, through blending facilities. In the meantime, developing countries’ shouts for debt relief are getting ever louder. This Financing for Development Forum promises to be very interesting.   What’s at stake?  ...

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Why a free press is vital for exposing financial injustice.

Martin Atkin

03 May 2017 09:13:38

As Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet - better known as the Luxleaks whistleblowers - prepare for the next legal battle to clear their names, it’s worth remembering that it was only thanks to the much-vilified “mainstream media” that the tax avoidance scandal was exposed. Leaked documents do not make a story by themselves - it also takes independent, determined journalism. The two former PwC employees are appealing against revised sentences handed down by a Luxembourg court for their part in exposing how multinational corporations used secret tax deals with the Grand Duchy to dodge taxes around the world. Although the court reduced their original punishments, the pair are fighting to clear their names altogether. But the whistleblowers deserve praise – not punishment. They were prosecuted ...

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Crunch time for the OECD’s new aid rules?

Polly Meeks

25 Apr 2017 10:12:03

Blink and you might miss it: but a seemingly low-key meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) officials this week could signal one of the biggest changes in decades to the way that donors think about aid.  That’s because tomorrow’s meeting [April 26] could be decision time on the rules governing ‘private sector instruments’ (PSIs). The proposed rule changes would allow donors to count more of their investment in, and other support to, private sector companies as aid, if those companies are doing business in developing countries, and if certain conditions are met.  Civil society, from both North and South, has been warning of risks in these proposed changes for months. To be clear: our concerns aren’t ...

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IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings: drifting off course as multilateralism faces headwinds.

Bodo Ellmers, Maria Romero

25 Apr 2017 09:05:58

The 2017 spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank, which also included the second edition of the Global Infrastructure Forum, took place against the uncertainty generated by geopolitical changes such as the election of President Trump in the US and the formalisation of the UK’s exit from the European Union. A draft budget proposal by President Trump, released in the run-up to the Spring Meetings, overshadowed last week's discussions as it suggests that instead of getting a capital increase, the World Bank will experience a substantial cut in its funding from its main shareholder. Meanwhile, civil society organisations (CSOs) voiced their concerns about how far the Bretton Woods Institutions are from serving development objectives. Systematic and concerned focus on private finance. ...

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Eight reasons why public country by country reporting is good for business in Europe

Jasper De Meyer

20 Apr 2017 10:58:31

It’s not just tax transparency campaigners and citizens who want public country by country reporting (CBCR). Businesses and investors are increasingly in favour too. Here’s why:  1. To level the playing field between SMEs and large multinationals. SMEs frequently only operate in one country and are not able to engage in profit-shifting between tax jurisdictions to reduce their taxes, and as a consequence face a higher tax bill compared to their competitor multinationals. According to the European Commission’s impact assessment, cross-border companies in the EU are estimated to pay on average 30 per cent less tax than similar firms active in only one country. Public CBCR would help to level the playing field between MNCs and SMEs, and in turn enhance SMEs’ capacity to support growth ...

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One year after the Panama Papers, the EU’s drive for increased financial transparency risks falling short

Jasper De Meyer

06 Apr 2017 14:41:31

On the morning of 4 April 2016, exactly one year ago, citizens around the world woke up to yet another shocking tax scandal. The leaking of 11.5 million confidential documents from Mossack Fonseca showed how the Panamanian law firm helped its clients through the use of offshore anonymous company and trust structures to launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxation. In the weeks which followed, the Panama Papers put the issue of anonymous company ownership high on the international agenda. The European Commissioner responsible for taxation, Pierre Moscovici, said that the use of offshore companies in order to hide financial assets from tax authorities was “immoral, unethical and, in one word, unacceptable”. He said that the EU had “a duty” to act and put an end to the kind of tax ...