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Government must follow aid pledge with action on tax and environment

December 5 2012 - Christian Aid today welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to commit 0.7 per cent of gross national income next year to overseas aid, but called for a coherent tax strategy to benefit poorer countries.

In addition, the international development agency warned that the Government’s gas strategy also announced today would make it impossible for the UK to meet its carbon-cutting target.

On the 0.7 per cent, Christian Aid’s senior political adviser Sol Oyuela said: 'The UK has long been a leader in international development. The Chancellor’s confirmation that 0.7 will be delivered in 2013 sends a powerful signal for other countries to follow that economic recovery ‘will not be built on the backs of the world’s poor’.

‘While the 0.7 per cent will be an historic achievement, aid has not been immune to the economic downturn and the absolute spend will be less than originally forecast. This is all the more reason to ensure the money is well spent.

‘However, the Chancellor also referred to the bilateral Swiss tax treaty which he said would bring benefits to the UK although it preserves the anonymity of UK citizens hiding money in accounts there. This is the wrong approach and will preserve tax haven secrecy which is damaging developing countries.'
Ms Oyuela said the Government instead should adopt the findings of the House of Commons International Development Committee, which called for a coherent approach across all Government departments to tackling tax dodging in the developing world.

‘The UK should show the same leadership on tax as it has on aid,’ she said. ‘The UK’s presidency of the G8 next year is the ideal place to start. The Chancellor must also ensure his promised clamp down on tax dodging in the UK works for developing countries.

‘Christian Aid estimates that tax dodging by multinationals at present costs poorer countries around US$160 billion a year – vastly more than they receive in aid.’

On the newly published gas strategy Christian Aid’s senior climate change adviser Alison Doig said: ‘The planned increase in the provision of gas energy inevitably means a large number of new gas power stations, locking in high carbon infrastructure for decades.

‘Last week’s draft Energy Bill delayed a decision until 2016 on whether to have a target to decarbonise our electricity sector by 2030. The Government’s new gas strategy and the Chancellor’s tax breaks for controversial shale gas would make this target impossible to set, never mind implement.

‘This domestic policy steps away from the coalition’s green commitment and undermines the UK’s position at the climate negotiations in Doha as it  tries to hold a strong position on increasing the EU’s emissions targets.

‘It is in the UK’s interest to have a green economy based on low-carbon energy, with green jobs and an energy-secure future.’

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For more information please call Andrew Hogg 0207 523 2058/07872 350538

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around some 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. We believe that the underlying causes of poverty were made by, and can be ended by, human action. Our strategy for building the power of us all to end poverty is embodied in a new report ‘Partnership for Change’: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/2012_strategy.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 125 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.  Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk