General / Weekend News

Backlash in UK over “tax haven” aid to Belize and others

By Alexis R. Milan, Staff Reporter

British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing backlash in his country after an investigation found that the United Kingdom (UK) subsidized over 45 million pounds to so-called “tax havens”, including Belize.

According to British newspaper the Independent, an investigation conducted by that newspaper revealed that in 2013 the British government made substantial aid contributions to 13 countries included on the European Commission’s (EC) “tax haven” blacklist.

“Tax havens including Belize, Anguilla, and Panama have such high poverty levels that they qualify for substantial UK development grants”, the article said.

“UK aid funds have been directed to build an airport in Montserrat, and funds have been set aside to pay for roads and ports in Belize, Antigua & Barbuda, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines,” it further revealed.

The Reporter attempted to contact Belize Financial Secretary Joseph Waight to confirm the amount of aid received by GOB and where it was used since the Independent reported no breakdown of the aid-funding was available. Waight, however, was unavailable for comment.

John Christensen, director of the British Tax Justice Network, described the situation as “incoherent” and warned that the countries’ tax policies were being pursued at the expense of their own local populations.

“This issue goes straight to the heart of the tax justice agenda; there is an obvious lack of policy coherence when development assistance is being provided to countries that deliberately choose to set low or zero tax rates on corporate profits, or offer hugely expensive tax exemptions but can’t afford to provide even basic public services like health, security and education to their citizens”, he told the Independent.

“Donor countries need to pay far more attention to whether aid-recipient countries are making sufficient effort to tax their wealthy citizens and tackle corporate tax avoidance.  Tackling tax dodging is an important step towards reducing reliance on aid and external debt,” he added.

The listed countries who receive aid are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Seychelles, St. Vincent & Grenadines, and Vanuatu.

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