'G20 should be ashamed': Oxfam urges summit to fight global tax avoidance

Charity group tells G20 to get tough on tax-dodging firms

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Oxfam has called on world leaders at the G20 summit to “end tax secrecy for corporate giants and phantom firms.”

The charity said Africa bore the brunt of a “broken” global tax system, which allows some African nations to lose nearly 2 per cent of national income in tax not recouped from big international firms.

The G20 formally agreed to tackle the global tax question at a meeting in July, but campaigners for tougher reforms on taxes now feel the issue is in danger of being overshadowed by the conflict in Syria.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne today tweeted: “Syria will of course be main focus but I'll be discussing economy - am hopeful UK agenda on tax trade & transparency will be adopted by G20.”

The official purpose of the summit, which was inaugurated in 1998, is to discuss policy issues relating to the promotion of international financial stability.

Emma Seery, Oxfam’s head of development finance, said that the lost income of African countries through tax avoidance was the equivalent of more than half of the money governments spent on health in sub-Saharan Africa.

Seery said: “The G20 should be ashamed to be at the helm of an economic system that allows companies to rip off Africa to this extent.”

“It is an outrage that the poorest countries not only suffer this, but are not even invited to the table to take part in tax talks.”

Oxfam called on summit leaders to impose a deadline for ending global tax secrecy, and requested an automatic system in which tax information would be transparent to both poor and rich countries.