Not a Title Worth Having

If this story is more than a little dispiriting, at least it reveals to our inquiring minds “the world’s worst place to be a mother”:

Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.

Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.

“Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC.

It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.

The Africa Progress Report is released every May – produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.

African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.

The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in “highly opaque and secretive deals”.

This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world’s worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.

And whose fault is that?

It takes two to make a deal, shady or otherwise, and “firms” stay in business by trying to keep costs—including taxes—low. You want business to stay? keep your taxes low. You’ll thrive.

But they’re right on “governance” and the rule of law. If there is no rule of law, there is only lawlessness. The sooner Africa, and South America, learn that, the sooner they will crawl out of poverty and despair.

Or not. Their call.

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