ASAP was recently cited on Channel 4 in a segment titled “Poverty ‘neglected’ in party manifestos“. The segment echos the conclusion of ASAP UK’s audit of the major parties’ manifestos in the 2017 UK General Election: that political parties are failing to address growing levels of poverty across the country. Presenter Jackie Long then visits housing estates on North Tyneside to interview residents about the election and political parties.
An audit of the major UK political parties’ manifestos by a group of leading academics and ASAP (Academics Stand Against Poverty UK) has revealed a failure to grasp the key issues behind growing levels of poverty in the UK and the lack of a realistic path for a sustainable and prosperous future.
Using a scoring system to assess the likely effectiveness of party policies to reduce poverty, the Conservatives, with a score of less than two out of five, were substantially behind Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who both score more than 3.6 and 3.2 respectively.
The key results were:
- Labour scored highest across all policy areas except the Environment and Sustainability, with an overall score of 3.6, compared to 3.2 for the Liberal Democrats and just 1.5 for the Conservatives
- The Liberal Democrats came a close second to Labour, and stand out in comparison to the other parties for their environmental policies
- The Conservatives scored worst in every topic, never scoring higher than 2, indicating low confidence in their policies across the board
Catarina Tully, Co-Chair of ASAP UK, said, “According to ASAP’s audit, Labour’s plans are the most transparent and detailed, and most likely to lead to improved quality of life for British society generally. The Conservative Party’s manifesto is the vaguest and offers little that is concrete in the way of plans for raising quality of life. The truth is that, across the board, the parties fail to mention Britain’s deep economic sustainability problems: significant current account and trade deficits plus rising household debt. Since our last audit prior to the 2015 General Election, the Conservatives have gone backwards, scoring no more than two out of five across all policy areas, whilst the Labour Party has leapfrogged the Liberal Democrats, standing out particularly for their social agenda.”
The audit is a detailed analysis of each of the parties’ manifesto commitments by experts in a range of policy areas. Each area was rated on a scale of one to five of confidence level in how each party’s manifesto addresses poverty and enables a flourishing life for the UK public.
The audit was undertaken by leading academics from 23 universities across the UK to help voters make informed decisions on election day. ASAP believes that recent trends in poverty have become more acute over the last two years suggesting austerity is affecting the most vulnerable in society disproportionately. It also has specific concerns about the quality of information and use of manifestos in the political debates.
Catarina Tully added, “Never has the need for credible and authoritative analysis been more important. The proliferation of fake news weakens democratic systems, meaning trust in politicians, the media, and even institutions like charities is at an all time low. ASAP UK believes academics and their expertise play a critical role in better informing the debate around the election.”
For more information about the audit, please visit ukpovertyaudit.academicsstand.org.
Nita Mishra, PhD scholar at University College Cork and Convenor of ASAP Ireland, will speak at two events in Dublin this month.
The Poverty of Lives: Women and Abuse across India and Ireland at Kimmage Development Studies Centre, 18 May 2017
Lucy Kurien, a Catholic nun from Kerala in India, will deliver the keynote address, joined by Nita Mishra of ASAP Ireland and author Catherine Dunn. The event is supported by Ireland-India Institute and Gender Study Group, Development Studies Association Ireland.
India and Europe: Debating the Challenge of Climate Change at Dublin City University, 25 May 2017
DCU Ireland India Institute will host an international conference on the challenge of climate change for India and Europe on Thursday 25 May 2017 in DCU’s All Hallows campus. This conference takes place against the backdrop of an uncertain global context that challenges the progress of recent years, including the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The conference will bring together Indian and European experts to analyse the respective perspectives of the European Union and India climate change and sustainable development. The conference is supported by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Nita Mishra will speak on “Critical perspectives on climate change and development in India”.
The XXVIII World Congress of the International Association for the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR) will be held in Lisbon, Portugal from July 17 to July 21, 2017.
The Congress theme will be “Peace Based on Human Rights”. The languages of the Congress will be English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Special Workshops must be proposed by May 15
Abstracts for Working Groups must be submitted by May 15
For more information and to register for the meeting, please visit ivr2017lisbon.org.
The increasing prominence of growing inequality around the world has intensified the interest in global tax fairness. In most countries, the tax burden has shifted from large multinational corporations (MNCs) and wealthy elites to ordinary citizens and smaller firms. This problem has been exacerbated by the inability of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project to address the critical needs of the poorer countries. While the effort was well-intended, resistance by several developed countries and their MNCs has blocked genuine progress. Roughly half of all world trade still passes through tax haven jurisdictions; and tax avoidance continues to be facilitated through complex and intransparent financial structures. The resulting enormous revenue loss affects people everywhere. But it hurts poor people in poor countries the most, because they are least able to assert themselves politically and they suffer vital losses when their state fails to make the basic social investments required to end their deprivation.
The current efforts of large economies (such as the U.S.) to go their own way and try to implement sweeping reforms to benefit mainly themselves will undermine international cooperation and disadvantage especially the poorer countries whose bargaining power is weak. To raise the revenues that these countries need to achieve social justice, they must take control of their own tax destinies. They must think creatively, thoughtfully and collaboratively to find ways of protecting their tax revenues in an increasingly adversarial global environment.
We invite papers that explore the options available to developing countries and provide a basis for dialogue and concerted policy action. The intellectual collaboration we initiate should help tax administrators, policy makers, academics and civil-society experts to learn from one another and to jointly envision practices suitable to advancing their own countries toward tax justice and a better future for their citizens. The papers are to be published as an anthology with a good publisher that assures wide distribution at an affordable price.
Specifications & Deadline
Papers should be about 6,000 to 7,000 words, with appropriate citations and an executive summary. The deadline for submission is June 30, 2017. Accepted papers will be thoroughly discussed at two workshops planned for August and December 2017.
Without limiting authors’ creative discretion, we suggest some sample topics:
– What would it take to tax multinationals as single firms? The mandate from the G20 world leaders, in support of the BEPS project, was that multinational companies should be taxed “where economic activity takes place and value is created.” This mandate is subject to various interpretations including treating these firms as unitary entities. That would involve the allocation of profits based on a formula that is commensurate with value creation as determined through the entities’ sales, payroll and assets. How can this agenda best be taken forward, and how can some of the misallocations arising from the ‘separate entity’ principle best be overcome? If such an approach were to succeed, what implications would this have for both developing and developed countries?
– How do we move from tax competition to tax cooperation? While there is a healthy tension between the need to attract investment and the need to ensure fairness and equality in competition, there is also an urgent need to avoid a race to the bottom. Are tax incentives necessary to encourage foreign direct investment? What are their pros and cons? Do developing countries have a better option that avoids the tragedy of a shrinking tax base?
– How can we strengthen global tax governance in ways that would be helpful to developing countries? Do the Bretton Woods Institutions, the OECD and the UN meet the needs of the Global South and, if not, why not? Do we need a body with universal membership that could arbitrate and resolve issues of special importance to the Global South? What would the design of a more inclusive framework look like? Can a new institution negotiate new regulations that are authoritative and ensure just outcomes?
– What are the pros and cons of developing countries signing bilateral tax treaties, and what alternative paths should they consider? Do these treaties typically protect MNCs at the expense of developing countries? Does the empirical evidence show that such treaties increase foreign direct investment? What can be learned from reviewing the model tax conventions of the UN and the OECD as well as the Multilateral Instrument (MLI) recently proposed by the OECD under the BEPS initiative?
– What are some ways of protecting the tax base of developing countries? Does it make sense to impose withholding taxes on payments to non-residents? Could such taxes work even as the reach of the digital economy expands? And what about the idea of adopting safe harbors to simplify tax administration and compliance? These ‘tax thresholds’ can often broaden the tax base and offer predictability to both companies and revenue authorities. Are there some best practices here that can benefit all developing countries?
– Can developing countries use the profit split method more widely to determine taxable profits? What are best practices in this regard that may serve as a model for other countries? If properly structured, the profit-split method can address difficulties in valuing cross-border transactions and transfer pricing arrangements and enhance the tax base of developing countries. A paper might outline some ways of doing this and provide examples of what has/has not worked in specific countries.
– Natural resource management is a critical issue for many developing countries, often fraught with tax abuse and lack of transparency. How have some countries (such as Chile and Botswana) managed this challenge reasonably well while others have foundered? What are some lessons to be learned here, and are there some innovative ways of negotiating the return of investment with MNC’s so that both the companies and the countries can benefit?
– A number of developing countries have been able to enhance their tax base by requiring more disclosure and attestation rules by both corporate officers and independent public accountants. This also provides an important risk management function for tax administrators and encourages taxpayer compliance. The Dictaman Fiscal rule in Mexico is a case in point. Are there other rules or practices of this kind that may be helpful to developing countries?
– Another paper might cover key developing country priorities that have not been adequately covered in international deliberations thus far and continue to constrict the tax base of developing countries. This includes many shortfalls in the existing transfer pricing standards, tax treatment of technical services in developing countries, the impact of investment treaty obligations, high interest costs borne by developing countries, and the use of tax havens. It may be useful to outline also transfer pricing methodologies that do work for developing countries (such as for Brazil and Argentina) even if they are not recognized by the OECD. All of these have an important impact on the tax base of developing countries, and need further dissemination and dialogue.
– Also worthy of developing-country attention is the opportunity to form regional alliances on tax and trade matters. This involves both capacity building and economic integration to enable greater flow of resources and increased economic development. Can regional economic integration build strength in a globalized economy and provide long-term benefits in the member countries involved? Can developing countries then pool their expertise and bargaining power to negotiate more effectively as a group? Answers would be useful to policy makers in developing countries who may find such an alliance a promising tool toward protecting their national tax bases.
Following one of the above suggestions or developing other ideas, papers should assist countries of the Global South toward designing tax systems that can sustain a just society. We look forward to receiving pertinent thoughts from academics, tax administrators, policy makers, business people and others with suitable expertise.