Kenya is one of the most troubled countries in Africa right now. So it's good to read this reprot on allAfrica.com of work done there by the Tax Justice Network Africa and our good friends Christian Aid:
Christian Aid has a shocking slogan for an institution whose members preach the resurrection and heaven: "We Believe in Life Before Death." The organisation, working with the Tax Justice Network, has produced a report entitled The Shirts off their Backs: How tax policies fleece the poor. Although the report is two years old, it is sufficiently annoying to be relevant today.
And they are not stopping there. This week, they set up shop in Nairobi - with help from the Heinrich Boll Foundation - and hosted tax expert Jack Ranguma and Institute of Economic Affairs' Kwame Owino at a public forum to discuss tax justice. It is an eye-opening forum - especially as sitting back quietly, you learn that less than 3 million people in Kenya pay tax, that the Kenya Revenue Authority only captures 24 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, and that multi-national corporations are the most expert tax dodgers.
Under the microscope, the boast that Kenya is financing its budget almost entirely from local revenues falls apart.
The Shirts off their Backs says KRA is owed Sh88.5 billion in unpaid taxes - and this money will probably never be paid because the businesses that owe are no longer trading in Kenya or have closed.
Tax Justice Network estimates that up to 70 per cent of the wealth holding of high-net individuals is held offshore. Revolutionary stuff, but perhaps you do not want to hear it in an election year.
Jack Ranguma is a man for whom I have a lot of respect. He's now setting up Tax Research Africa to replicate the work I seek to do here in that continent. I wish him well. There is much to do, but ample opportunity to achieve.