Responding to the new revelations of the Panama Papers (https://panamapapers.icij.org), Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
“The latest Panama Papers revelations expose rampant tax dodging that is allowing multinational companies to avoid paying their dues, particularly how shadow companies are shifting billions in revenue derived from highly lucrative mining and extractives operations across Africa,” Dr Szoke said.
“It is shameful that tax avoidance is preventing this money from being spent on vital services such as schools and hospitals in the world’s poorest continent.
“Today’s release of information shows that the firm Mossack Fonseca helped to establish offshore companies ‘to own, hold or do business with petroleum, natural gas and mining operations in 44 of Africa’s 54 countries.’
“The fresh revelations published today by the International Consortium of Journalists included details of millions of dollars in alleged bribes for oil and gas contracts in Algeria and the widespread use of offshore companies to assist in oil, gas and mining deals.
“These are valuable natural resources – that should be supporting the needs of everyday people, rather than lining the pockets of the rich and powerful.
“When corporations get away with shirking their responsibility to pay their fair share, spending on essential services that are desperately needed suffers.
“This scandal is contributing to the inequality crisis across Africa.”
Dr Szoke said Oxfam Australia’s recent report, The Hidden Billions, further revealed Australian-based multinational corporations are playing a role in poor nations losing out due to tax dodging practices.
Oxfam’s research revealed nearly $AU9 billion that could be spent on public services in Australia and poor countries was being hidden by Australian-based multinationals in tax havens.
Dr Szoke said that overwhelming evidence was mounting in support of Oxfam’s call for more transparent tax policies.
“Oxfam is calling on the Federal Government to legislate to ensure that companies disclose their profits and taxes publicly for every country in which they operate,” Dr Szoke said.
“Others, including the US, Canada, and Europe have already made the public reporting of taxes and profits mandatory for high-risk sectors such as mining and banking.”
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