Why is the UK so keen to support tax havens now?

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Martin Hearson of ActionAid had the following letter in the Guardian today:

Paul Collier is right that stemming capital flight from developing countries would provide them with a significant source of sustainable revenue (Comment, October 7). But it's not just corrupt individuals who are responsible for these outflows: tax evasion and avoidance by multinationals cost developing countries billions of pounds a year too.

On the same page, Larry Elliott argues that tackling "the role of tax havens in undermining the policies of sovereign states ... will require the sort of global policy coordination so sorely lacking in recent years". So it is astonishing that, as the UK government calls for a new global financial order based on transparency, it is seeking to have language on international tax cooperation removed from the outcome document of a key summit on financing for international development, to take place in Doha in November.

Helping developing countries repatriate lost tax income will be an essential step if they are to build adequate, sustainable income bases in the long term. The financial crisis should not provide an excuse to reduce aid flows as Collier suggests. It also underscores the need for international cooperation to help developing countries boost their tax income. Without it, we are giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
Martin Hearson

Larry, of course, quoted me, here.

And there is no doubt that it is the UK who is leading the opposition to any clampdown on tax havens: I gather this was very apparent at the summit of UK development ministers in France last week.

At this moment that really does beggar belief.