Jeremy Corbyn to take aim at tax avoidance in speech at UN


Labour leader to promise action on tax havens and attack ‘global scandal’ of wealthy few controlling 90% of resources
Jeremy Corbyn will be speaking at the UN in Geneva.
 Jeremy Corbyn will be speaking at the UN in Geneva. Photograph: Mary Turner/Reuters

The Labour leader will highlight four main threats faced by humanity: the concentration of wealth and power in a small group, exacerbated by tax avoidance; climate change; the refugee crisis, and what he will call a “bomb first, think later” approach to conflict resolution.

Corbyn will highlight the recent Paradise Papers revelations as evidence of the scale of tax avoidance, according to extracts of Friday’s speech released in advance.

“As the Paradise and Panama Papers have shown, the super-rich and powerful can’t be trusted to regulate themselves,” Corbyn will say.

“Multinational companies must be required to undertake country-by-country reporting, while countries in the global south need support now to keep hold of the billions being stolen from their people.”

A Labour government would actively seek to assist tax authorities in developing countries, as Norway has done in a scheme with Zambia, he will say. Corruption in poorer nations is “a global issue that requires a global response”.

He will add: “When people are kept in poverty while politicians funnel public funds into tax havens, that is corruption, and a Labour government will act decisively on tax havens, introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories, including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners for all companies and trusts.”

More generally on the economic system, Corbyn will condemn a system “where a wealthy few control 90% of global resources; of growing insecurity and grotesque levels of inequality within and between nations”.

He will add: “This is a global scandal. The most powerful international corporations must not be allowed to continue to dictate how and for who our world is run.

“Thirty years after structural adjustment programmes first ravaged so much of the world, and a decade after the financial crash of 2008, the neoliberal orthodoxy that delivered them is in crisis.

“This moment – a crisis of confidence in a bankrupt economic system and social order – presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to build a new economic and social consensus which puts the majority in the driving seat.”

Extracts of the speech on climate change call for new policies from the globe’s most-polluting countries, including the UK, including allowing armed forces to devote more resources to tackling humanitarian emergencies, to factor environmental costs into official financial forecasting and to back the Paris climate accord.

Beyond the main points of his speech, Corbyn was due to again outline his vision for a post-Brexit Britain based on high standards, and reject those who hoped to “put rocket boosters under our current economic system’s insecurities and inequalities”.

Corbyn will also accuse the UK government of being complicit in mass rights violations in Yemen, where Saudi-backed forces are fighting a long and bloody civil war against Houthi rebels.

During a stopover in Saudi Arabia last week during a Middle East visit, Theresa May called on the country’s rulers to lift a blockade on Yemen, which aid groups say is contributing to a humanitarian catastrophe that is fast getting even worse.

But Corbyn will say ministers should do more: “Theresa May turns a wilfully blind eye to the flagrant and large-scale human rights abuses now taking place in Yemen, fuelled by arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds.

“Total British government aid to Yemen last year was under £150m, less than the profits made by British arms companies selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. What does that say about our country’s priorities, or our government’s role in the humanitarian disaster now gripping Yemen?

“The weight of international community opinion needs to be brought to bear on those supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, including Theresa May’s government, to meet our legal and moral obligations on arms sales, and to negotiate an urgent ceasefire and settlement of this devastating conflict.”

Source: The Guardian

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