This is a post of a new series on the Development Channel,“This Week in Markets and Democracy.” Each Friday, CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program will highlight the week’s noteworthy events and articles.
Cost of Tax Breaks and Evasion on African Economies
As organizations gear up for July’s Third International Conference on Financing for Development, new reports highlight the toll of tax evasion and outsized corporate tax breaks on African economic development. The World Bank calculates that between 2002 and 2009, Tunisia lost at least $1.2 billion in import taxes as firms undervalued and underreported imports. A recent report by Health Poverty Action (HPA) reveals that Sierra Leone has lost nearly $200 million a year in tax breaks, or three times its 2015 health budget. HPA estimates that by reducing benefits for the nation’s five largest mining firms, Sierra Leone could generate an extra $94 million in government revenue.
Curbing Corruption in Central and Southeast Asia
Asian countries are fighting corruption through digital platforms, legal reforms, and innovative civil society programs. With public procurement accounting for 20 percent of all government expenditures, the Kyrgyz Republic is taking on graft by requiring government bodies to publish all public contract details on a central web portal. Since the roll-out, 700 state and local governments have switched to e-procurement and over 2,000 businesses have registered. In Cambodia, Transparency International has rolled out an Anti-Corruption Card, which citizens receive in exchange for signing a declaration against corruption. The cards, now numbering over 8,000, provide discounts at cafés and shops in Phnom Penh.
ILO and UNODC Launch Global Call to Action for Labor Rights
Against the background of horrific labor abuses in preparations for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, the ILO and UNODC announced a partnership to promote fair and ethical labor recruitment during this week’s UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. The two organizations are urging governments, labor organizations, and the private sector to end fraudulent labor recruiting through broad legal, regulatory, and enforcement reforms. Such legal protections would be welcome in Hong Kong, where existing laws don’t recognize labor exploitation or domestic servitude as human trafficking. In the private sector, Apple recently ended all recruitment fees for its factory workers, serving as a model for other corporations to end rights violations in their supply chains.