Zambia: A Case Study
Due to the Methodist Church's overseas links, MTJN are able to find out first hand how other countries are being affected by tax avoidance. The General Secretary of the United Church of Zambia, Reverend Peggy Mulambya Kabonde, visited the UK in the summer of 2013, and as part of her visit spoke at an MTJN event in the centre of Birmingham. The event, entitled 'More Tax, Less Aid: Too Simple A Solution?', gave Peggy and Zambian business expert Gracewell Mwansa the opportunity to teach us how corporate tax avoidance has affected their country. Zambia is rich in natural resources, and yet still remains among the world's poorest nations, with 60.5% of the population living under the poverty line.
Of particular interest were the mining companies, who have been exploiting Zambia's natural abundance of copper and other minerals while barely paying any tax at all. Peggy explained that the United Church of Zambia were trying to use their influence to get the government to change their position on the amount that mining companies pay. If mining giants like Glencore-Xstrata paid an amount of tax in Zambia that directly related to the export value of the copper produced, then the people of Zambia would be able to see the benefits of their own country's resources in the form of much needed public spending on health, education and infrastructure.
As a result of Peggy's visit and after some further research, MTJN have produced a leaflet on Zambia's battle with corporate tax avoiders - as well as the mining companies, ActionAid's 'Sweet Nothings' campaign lifted the lid on Associated British Food's tax avoidance strategies through their subsidiary Zambia Sugar. This leaflet is available to download for free from our Resources page.
What can we do?
- Take part in ActionAid’s campaigns on ABF and Barclays, whose ‘Offshore Corporate Division’ helps companies avoid tax in Africa.
- Write to your MP and MEP asking them to urge the Government and European institutions to support i) Automatic Information Exchange and Country-by-Country Reporting by Transnational Corporations, especially relating to developing countries; ii) a public registry for beneficial ownership of trusts and shell companies in tax havens; iii) the strengthening of the OECD action plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS); iv) the work of the UN Tax Committee.
- Write to your pension fund asking for their policy on tax dodging by the companies in which they invest, and if they have raised tax justice with any of these companies.