|Ghana’s Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, also has a message for public servants at the 6th International Institute of certified Forensic Investigation Professionals (IICFIP): “You have been called to serve not to loot!” Perhaps time for an Integrity Icon Ghana to provide some positive inspiration?
Global Financial Integrity gives a nice overview of a spate of bills in the US congress addressing illicit financial flows, from the ILLICIT CASH act to the TRAP Act to the CROOK ACT (acronym creativity is clearly well-prized among legislative staffers.)
Will Snell of Tax Justice Network argues we can supercharge international aid with smarter tax support that goes beyond narrow technocratic reforms to a broader view of ways to boost domestic revenues. One way is through more effective taxation of global firm operations and on that front Public Service International adds their take: instead of taxing a multinational’s numerous entities separately, it advocates taxing each multinational enterprise as a unitary entity. They argue that the only losers in this scheme are tax avoiders and tax havens.
Expect more calls for clamping down on tax loopholes and raising new taxes as treasuries face growing debt service payments. The IMF is trying to draw attention to surging public debt-to-GDP ratios in East Africa as Burundi joins a list of 9 African countries in high debt distress. Kenya is not yet on that list, but has been upgraded from low to moderate risk as the country’s lawmakers recently voted to increase the country’s debt ceiling to Ksh9 trillion ($90 billion) in the current 2019/2020 fiscal year breaching the East Africa Community’s debt target that is equivalent to 50 per cent of the GDP.
What to do about it? TAI will be hosting a conversation among debt, tax and budget activists next month, but in the meantime Scott Morris reminds us that the changing debt landscape means that we cannot simply repeat the measures that resolved the last debt crisis – the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative will not cut it, not least due to China’s current outsized creditor role to developing countries – bigger than all bilateral Paris Club creditors combined.
Many investors in East Africa (and worldwide) are Chinese, but how is that perceived locally? As a Chinese NGO stepped outside the country for the first time, it found itself caught in between Chinese companies hoping the NGO would smooth local relations and skeptical local communities.
Essential Listening: Open Societies Are Under Threat
Open Society Foundations Founder and philanthropist, George Soros, muses on threat to democratic societies. “When I got involved in what I call political philanthropy some 40 years ago, the open society idea was on the ascendance. Closed societies are opening up, and now open societies are on the defensive. And dictatorships are on the rise,” he says.