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G8 takes small step to tackle financial secrecy while Hilary Clinton leads way

May 27 2011 - The world’s most powerful countries must do more to tackle financial secrecy as an enabler of serious crimes which have devastating effects on the lives of millions of people across the world, Christian Aid is urging.

G8 countries’ Deauville Declaration today acknowledges the benefits of financial transparency – especially in relation to oil, gas and mining companies’ payments to governments, which are sometimes a means of corruption.

‘We are pleased to see the G8’s recognition of the importance of transparency and the tentative support for legal measures for the extractives industry. These powerful countries must follow their thinking through to its logical conclusion – that it’s time to use the law to secure greater openness across the world,’ said David McNair, Christian Aid’s Senior Economic Justice Adviser.

‘People living in poverty in developing countries need more than voluntary initiatives to boost the tax revenues that their countries need to fund essential public services such as hospitals and schools, and to effectively combat the menace of corruption.’

Christian Aid was however delighted to see US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s remarks yesterday to fellow OECD leaders. She highlighted how badly poor countries need financial transparency and strong tax systems, in a speech in Paris.

Secretary Clinton stated: 'We all have an interest in solving these problems together, to empower governments to collect precious revenues they use to build roads and power lines, to open schools and train teachers, to provide healthcare and invest in all the other drivers in economic activity.' 

She added: ‘Corruption, lack of transparency and poorly functioning tax systems are major barriers to long-term growth in many developing countries… Poor transparency makes it difficult if not impossible to determine how governments raise and spend their funds and therefore, how to hold governments accountable. And weak tax systems rob states and citizens of the resources needed.’

Christian Aid hopes Secretary Clinton will be able to influence other G20 countries in the run-up to their November summit meeting in Cannes.

‘The G8’s failure to agree on decisive action to tackle the corrosive effects of financial secrecy makes it all the more vital that G20 countries get their act together in time for Cannes,’ added Dr McNair.

Christian Aid is part of the End Tax Haven Secrecy campaign, which is calling on G20 states to agree to act decisively against tax havens in November. This would require them to agree to build a global system of automatic sharing of tax-related information between countries across the world, to make it impossible to hide money and assets in tax havens.

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If you would like further information please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446, 07545 501 749 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk