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TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly | Bad Guys Come First
By TAI
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Dear Readers,

This weekly is unmissable!

We start with the big picture of democracy vs autocracy before exploring the latest tax data, transparency and accountability drivers of protest, digitization to fight corruption, implications of China’s rise in multilaterals, incentivizing community driven change, and why funders should care about local journalism.

All this and much more.

 

Enjoy!

 


Mehdi, 
TAI´s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Fellow
 

Highlights

  • Bad guys come first 
  • Bad guys pay less tax?
  • Positive resistance – protest trends, live clampdowns, and digital effects
  • Corruption round-up – Brazil, Nigeria, beneficial ownership and bribery mappings
  • Building multilateral networks
  • Communities lead, a no-brainer
  • Yes, more advice for funders – stay the course, solidarity and journalism matters.
  • TAI spotlight

 

Bad guys come first

Bad guys come first
Image Credit: Pinterest

 

Let’s start with a question, are “The bad guys winning”? Anne Applebaum believes the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse. In this long, but important read, she outlines an urgent need to take on “Autocracy, Inc” and its enablers.

 

Bad guys pay less tax? 

The latest State of Tax Justice analysis claims that money lost to tax havens could vaccinate the world three times over — that’s $483 billion that countries are losing –  $312 billion to cross-border corporate tax abuse by multinational corporations and $171 billion to offshore tax evasion by wealthy individuals. See how your country fares, and read this thread from George Turner unpicking tax industry responses to the report. 

Take the case of the United States. Two years after Trump’s tax reform, US multinational companies still have over half of profits in tax havens. See the detailed report of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 here. And check out the 2019 statistics on US affiliates of foreign multinationals (52% of which still have foreign profits in tax havens).

Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sol Picciotto argue that only UN tax cooperation can unify a fragmented international tax system to combat tax such issues.

One positive is growing tax transparency to reveal the state of play. That was reinforced this past week when the courts ordered the release of former South African President Jacob Zuma’s tax returns as legitimately in the public interest – a win for the Financial Mail and investigative journalism outfit amaBhungane.

 

Positive resistance- protests trends, live clampdowns, and digital effects 

Bad guys come first

Image Source: Africa Portal

 

At TAI we’ve been digging into analysis of world protests from 2006 to 2020. We encourage you to take a look, especially the sections on protest driven by transparency and accountability demands, as well as anti-corruption and democracy motivations.

All those issues in play as people continue to head to the streets this past week. In the Democratic Republic of Congo hundreds of protesters gathered in the capital to demonstrate their dissatisfaction when President Felix Tshisekedi as he installed a close friend to head the country’s electoral commission.

In Sudan civilians continue to demand the fall of the military regime in the face of live ammunition and tear gas (another protestor died this weekend.)

In Cuba, the government used a variety of tactics from media smear campaigns to preventive detentions ahead of a civic march called for 15th November  – Cuban researchers Eloy Viera and Armando Chaguaceda analyse some of the political results of the failed uprising attempt this past 15N.

Watch this!

 

The latest session from OGP’s Academy – this one exploring the evidence around how access to justice impacts economies, societies & the social contract and the benefits in investing more in access to justice.
See the full library of Academy sessions here.

 

Corruption round-up- Brazil, Nigeria, beneficial ownership and bribery mappings

What do the Pandora Papers reveal about Brazil? For a start its anti-corruption laws need an update, argue Ligia Maura Costa and Roberto di Cillo.

Perhaps some small inspiration from Nigeria, where 2018 reforms to help curb corruption and promote transparency and accountability are seeing some progress at subnational level. See lessons from the State Governor’s Forum.

Despite good progress made on Beneficial Ownership implementation in the EU, the latest Ultimate Beneficial Ownership Atlas shows there is a lot left to do to ensure the public can efficiently access data. Plus, check out the latest Trace Bribery Risk Matrix edition, measuring business bribery risk in all countries.

Looking for a great resource in Spanish? Take a look at this analysis of contracting rules and public procurement in Colombia. 
 
The pandemic has hastened digitization, which can amplify vulnerabilities of civic actors, but also has potential to aid good governance. Emphasizing the positive, Joseph Atick, executive chairman of ID4Africa, speaks with champions of Africa’s digital transformation about the challenges of online systems, but also their potential, including reducing opportunities for corruption. 

 

Building multilateral networks 

Fascinating review of China’s growing participation and investment in multilateral institutions. China has become a leading borrower, lender and commercial partner. This can mean increased buy-in to high standards for transparency, but also raises some governance concerns, such as the growing dominance of Chinese firms in multilateral procurement.

As China joins the commitments to shift from funding coal projects abroad, Gao Baiyu looks at how China can instead export a “renewables +”  model of energy investment building on domestic experts in solar, for example. Although experts urge starting with trust-building and good practice sharing in the Southeast Asia region.

Bad guys come first

 Image Source:  China Daily
 

Talking of trust and cooperation, the Indigenous Exchange Forum brings together countries and First Nations groups from Australia, New Zealand and Canada to discuss impacts of mining on customary lands and highlighting community voices.  

Interesting to see Kosmos Energy trumpet their commitment to transparency on social media – a shame so few oil companies have followed their lead on proactive contract disclosure years on from the first movers.

No doubt with an eye on containing Chinese influence, interesting to see Australia and the US commit to Environmental, Social, and Governance standards for responsible sourcing of minerals.

 

#TAIRecommends

We are launching a new section in our newsletter. Every Monday we highlight some TPA-related thought pieces in our social media. This week we recommend this exploration on Causal Chains from Anuradha Joshi asking “If blueprint accountability interventions don’t work and context matters in shaping outcomes; how can general interventions be tailored to specific contexts? “

If you have an interesting piece to flag, tag @TAInitiative on Twitter or use the hashtag #TAIRecommends in your social media posts.

 

Communities lead, a no-brainer 

TAI members are always on the look out for frameworks, tools and lessons to help support community-driven systems change. So, interested to read this working paper from the international Centre for Tax and Development looking at how community contributions to development programs may be incentivised through matching grants in contexts of weak institutional capacity.

Read alongside Firelight Foundation’s new research report and toolkit around community-driven systems change – a value-driven approach and set of tools hoping to operationalize a genuine shifting of power to communities and local institutions.

What of motivating community engagement beyond the financial? This USAID discussion paper reviews experiences and lessons learned from initiatives seeking to engage civil society in improving access to and appropriate use of maternal,  new-born, and child health medical products. 

Finally, good luck to the first Citizen Observatory for the Participatory Budget in Mexico. The project supports the necessity of strengthening and creating resilience in the communities through the engagement of citizens in the decision making. “We want the citizens to own the Participatory Budget”, says Greta Ríos, President of Ollin – one of the organizations supporting the Observatory. 

 

Essential listening!

Listen to Dana Gold of the Government Accountability Project talk to the importance of protecting whistleblowers in this new episode of the GovExec Daily podcast. Dana highlights the lack of legal protection for people who choose to report cases of fraud, corruption, or wrongdoing in the public and private sectors.

 

Yes, more advice for funders – stay the course, solidarity and journalism matters

A new study of nearly 300 grantmakers shows some backsliding in the positive changes to grantmaking made during the pandemic – including the area of unrestricted funding where Ford Foundation’s Hilary Pennington says “there is still more talk than widespread adoption.”

Bad guys come first

 Image Source:  Compartir Palabra Maestra

 

Experts on human rights and philanthropy share four ways donors can show solidarity with grantees working in increasingly difficult environments to ensure their protection and safety. More tips on The Community Safety Podcast where Jim Nixon shares views on how to address key issues affecting communities today.

Finally, is philanthropy responding to the demise of local journalism with the urgency it deserves? Josh Stearns and Teresa Gorman advise that philanthropic organizations, especially at the local level, should make the connection between achieving local development goals and the necessity of maintaining vibrant journalism. Our instinct is this would apply beyond the US context the authors are examining. Do you agree?

 

TAI spotlight

Hewlett Foundation´s president Larry Kramer talks with Alliance magazine on its request to increase its budget to finance climate-related initiatives.

Open Society Foundations have announced four directors for their new Global Programs, continuing a drive to strengthen their impact around the world in promoting and defending Justice, Equity, and Expression.

Hewlett Foundation announces Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar as the next Board Chair.

 

Jobs at TAI members

Job postings at Hewlett Foundation – Ongoing

Job postings at MacArthur Foundation – Ongoing

Job postings at Open Society Foundations – Ongoing

Job postings at Luminate – Ongoing

Job postings at Ford Foundation– Ongoing

Job postings at FCDO – Ongoing

 

Job listings

Capacity Building Manager at Afrobarometer -November 25, 2021.

Trustee position on the CoST Board at The Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST)– December 1, 2021

Programme Officer (Governance and Anti-corruption) at UN Global Compact– December 1, 2021

 

Calls/Opportunities

Board of Trustee at Integrity Action – December 31, 2021

West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) call for papers and articles – Open year-round

Free digital security training– Ongoing                   

Call for proposals: Informality, tax, and the state – Proposals accepted on a rolling basis

RightsCon call for Proposals for 11th Summit Series–  January 13, 2022 

                                   

Calendar

ICTD Webinar: “Tax Treaty Practice in Resource-rich Countries“- November 30, 2021 (14:00-15:30 GMT)

Ronald Deibert on “Digital subversion: the threat to democracy”- December 01, 2021                                   

Political Polarization and Municipal Government Accountability during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Mexico – December 8, 2021

The Summit for Democracy – December 9-10, 2021

Open Government Partnership Global Summit – December 13-17, 2021

Annual Anti-Corruption Lecture by leading anti-corruption advocate Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala– December 15, (18:30 GMT)

International Convention on  Anti-Corruption, Good Governance, and Human Rights –  April 21-22, 2022 (Boston, MA)

 

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