Labour – showing real interest in corporate transparency and country-by-country reporting

Posted on

The Guardian reports this morning when discussing what the good businesses Ed Miliband has been talking about might look like :

More transparency about how much tax firms are paying is also critical. Harriet Harman, Miliband's deputy, used her conference speech to urge more action on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which demands multinationals operating in different countries publish details of what tax they pay in each country, making it harder for them to hoodwink governments in resource-rich but dirt poor African countries into giving away their raw materials at rock-bottom prices.

"No one can accept the situation where we have to give money to poor countries but those countries — which are rich in natural resources — don't get their fair share of the profits from their mines," Harman said.

"The truth is, more is lost to people in poor countries from tax dodging by global companies than is paid in aid."

Richard Murphy, of the Tax Justice Network, said: "A good company would be one which said what it's doing in each country, how much it's making, and how much tax it's paying. That's not happening at the moment."

In the UK context, that would mean firms reporting what percentage of their profits they have paid in tax in a given year — and why it's lower than the headline rate (eg because of mind-blowingly complex avoidance schemes involving a string of subsidiaries in tax havens).

I got positive feedback on the issues from the Labour Treasury team too.

And of course Labour when in office was a champion of country-by-country reporting.

I'm grateful for their continuing support.

Why is it the Tories can't share their enthusiasm for transparency and accountability?