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OECD Countries Help Bend Tax Rules, Even In Africa

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OECD countries and their dependencies are responsible for 68% of global corporate tax
abuse and significant tax revenue loss in Africa despite being global tax rules setters, according to a report.

The 2021 Corporate Tax Haven Index (CTHI 2021) says member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), or their dependencies, take up the top six spots on the ranking of the world’s greatest enablers of
corporate tax abuse.

These are Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, and Bermuda).

Besides, the CHTI 2021 finds OECD countries and their dependencies responsible for 68% of the world’s corporate tax abuse risks.

Yet, most African countries signed double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAA) with some OECD countries or dependencies.

Indeed, Kenya and the Netherlands have a DTAA. Ghana has DTAAs with the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Therefore, OECD countries are great contributors to tax revenue loss from the African continent. Dr Dereje Alemayehu, the executive coordinator of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Global Alliance for Tax Justice, said, “to trust the OECD in light of the index’s findings today is like trusting a pack of wolves to build a fence around your chicken coop.”

This is a further trust deteriorating blow of the OECD group’s ability to tackle the rampant global corporate tax abuse that costs the world $245 billion in lost corporate tax a year.

It also demonstrates that African countries are opening themselves to tax havens’ exploitation.

In fact, the 2021 CTHI shows that Africa holds a 4.15% share of the global corporate tax haven, the bulk of which, 2.3%, owes Mauritius, followed by South Africa (0.45%), Liberia (0.42%) and Seychelles (0.37%).

These three aggressive tax havens offer a zero corporate income tax rate, and all score bad on Category 3 (Transparency) and 4 (Anti-Avoidance). Estimations show that multinational corporations shift 5.4 billion in profits to Mauritius, causing 0.96 billion tax losses to other countries.

Tax Justice Network Africa’s Executive Director, Alvin Mosioma, argues that ‘‘contrary to popular claims, DTAAs signed by African countries with tax havens do not lead to increased investments.

African countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable
development goals will remain a mirage if these countries do not stem Illicit financial flows
and invest in building equitable tax systems.

The OECD held the global tax setting power for 60 years yet faced wide criticism for failure to
deliver meaningful change in its long-awaited tax reform proposals.

Today’s CTHI 2021’s finding reemphasise the once impossible notion of shifting that power to the United Nations with UN tax convention, which the UN High-Level Panel on International Financial
Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) calls for.

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I&M Bank Acquires 90% Stake In Uganda’s Orient Bank

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I&M Holdings, a Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm has stormed into the Ugandan financial market in style by acquiring a 90% stake in Orient Bank Limited, Taarifa reliably reports.

“This acquisition is expected to give the group greater capacity to grow profitably, through extending our network to our regional customers,” I&M’s executive director Sarit Raja Shah said in a statement.

Since 2014, I&M had been eyeing the Ugandan market in pursuit of growth and regional diversification strategy that is also seen among rivals like KCB Group, Equity Group and DTB Group.

The Kenyan banking multinational bought shares from Orient Bank’s shareholders Hemlata Karia, Jay Karia, Morka Holdings Limited, Zhong Shuang Quan, Cornerstone M8 Limited and the bank’s founder Ketan Morjaria.

This deal adds to I&M’s regional banking operations comprising Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Mauritius.

Morjaria, who held a 7.91% stake before the transaction, sold part of his shares and retains a 5.5% equity in the subsidiary.

Alemayehu Fisseha did not sell his holdings and also retains a 4.5% interest in the bank. “This acquisition marks a great milestone in the history of Orient Bank,” Dr. Morjaria said in a statement.

“We are proud to be integrating into a regional group like I&M Holdings Plc and this synergy will allow our customers to benefit from more seamless and superior banking products whilst continuing our tradition of trust.”

I&M had said that the U$33.5million purchase price would be subject to further adjustments on account of several factors including exchange rate fluctuations and the amounts raised from the sale of the Ugandan bank’s property in Kampala (Orient Plaza).

I&M said of the Orient Bank buyout in a circular to shareholders, “The combined group will be better able to serve the needs of regional and global customers, and in turn promote regional trade flows.”

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Mining Delivers US$385M To Ivorian, Ghanaian Economy In 2020

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Perseus Mining Limited (TSX & ASX: PRU) (www.PerseusMining.com) has released its CY20 Sustainable Development Report. The report details the company’s progress over the past 12 months in delivering on its commitment to responsible mining operations in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, including an overall economic benefit to host countries totalling about USD$385M.

As part of its longstanding commitment to the communities in which it operates, Perseus reported increasing community investment by 71% to around US$1.9M in CY20, funding critical health and education infrastructure projects for local communities. Additionally, Perseus announced it had increased its proportion of local procurement from 66% in CY19 to 78% in CY20, totalling US$287M, and further expanded its employment of local populations, with 96% of its current workforce local to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Jeff Quartermaine, Managing Director & CEO of Perseus said:

“Sustainability is deeply rooted in Perseus’s culture and operations and has had a large part to play in our resilience during this challenging year. We believe that responsible gold mining can play a key role in sustainable development, and that investing in our employees and our communities to create enduring social value will remain a guiding force in our growth path and future business operations. I am proud of my team’s effective response to the pandemic which successfully safeguarded our operations as well as our people, enabling us to deliver our Yaouré mine in Côte d’Ivoire this year ahead of schedule. Our approach to sustainability has continued to mature as our business has grown, and in the coming years we look forward to expanding our ESG offering and delivering greater impact across Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.”

Jessica Volich, Group Sustainability Manager at Perseus said:

“Despite the challenges the past year has brought, Perseus’s sustainability agenda has continued to strengthen and evolve alongside its expanding operations. Our wide-ranging efforts and engagement with our local communities and host governments has enabled us to create shared sustainable value for all our stakeholders. We are committed to strengthening these relationships in the coming years as we endeavour to generate socio-economic value for our people, communities and host countries.”

In CY20, Perseus has enhanced its disclosure on sustainability-related risks and opportunities by aligning with the key reporting frameworks used by our stakeholders. These include the World Gold Council Responsible Gold Mining Principles, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Highlights of the report include:

Economic and Social Contribution

  • Total economic contribution of US$385M in CY20 to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire
  • Increased community investment by 71% (from CY19) to around US$1.9M in CY20, funding critical health and education infrastructure projects for local communities and providing COVID-19 support
  • Creation of new health clinics near Sissingué to improve health outcomes for the ~27,000 residents of the local communities
  • Increased in-country employment, with over 96% of total employees from host countries
  • Local procurement spend of $287M, an increase from 66% in CY19 to 78% in CY20
  • Held 587 consultations with local communities
  • Paid >US$69M in taxes, royalties, and duties to Government

Health & Safety performance:

  • Maintained record of zero workplace fatalities and reduced injuries
  • Implementation of comprehensive measures and protocols to prevent introduction and spread of COVID-19 and maintain business continuity

Environmental stewardship:

  • Re-use of 12,495,163 KL of water
  • Water intensity of 7.46M3/oz gold produced, benchmarked ahead of peers
  • Enhanced tailings disclosures in line with the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, and completed independent audits of all our Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs)

Governance

  • Worked with independent sustainability risk experts, KPMG, to refresh sustainability materiality analysis and conduct deeper analysis of sustainability risks and opportunities, and start development of a 3-year sustainability roadmap
  • Announced appointment of a new Director by the end of FY21 to enhance sustainability skills of the Board
  • Release of the first Modern Slavery Statement to address potential human rights risks in Perseus’ global supply chain

Future ambitions

  • Establish a 3-year sustainability roadmap, and enhance social value and sustainability risk management through updates to the Risk Management Framework and policy standards
  • Establish the Yaouré Community Development Fund in FY21
  • During FY21 and FY22, Perseus will complete and commence implementation of our biodiversity plan at Yaouré in Côte d’Ivoire mine site in and establish our site nursery, to be staffed by local community members
  • Explore strategic opportunities for community partnerships in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana
  • Achieve full alignment with the World Gold Council Responsible Gold Mining Principles by FY23
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How A Career In Public Relations Helped Shape An African Royal

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To some, it might seem like an unusual career trajectory, but for Ewetse Khama, working in the Public Relations industry in Africa has been the perfect preparation for the next step in his unique journey.

From today, Ewetse is stepping down from his role at APO Group, the leading pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, to serve his country and his people.

This year, Ewetse’s father, Sekgoma Tshekedi Khama, retired from active duty in the Bamangwato tribe. This made way for the eldest son, Ewetse to assume his father’s role as a Kgosi – a Batswana term meaning ‘Chief’, ‘King’ or ‘Elder’ – in the Khama Family, one of Botswana’s most prominent royal families.

The Khamas have a long and illustrious history in Botswana. Ewetse’s paternal uncle, Sir Seretse Khama, served as the country’s first President after independence in 1966, and was the subject of a Hollywood blockbuster – A United Kingdom – about his marriage to English woman Ruth Williams. Sir Seretse’s eldest son, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama was Botswana’s 4th President from 2008-2018.

Botswana is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, which Ewetse attributes partly to the role that traditional leaders play as a conduit between government and the people, especially in promoting harmony and understanding. 

That might be one of the reasons the PR industry has been such a good fit for Ewetse, helping prepare him for the big challenges that lie ahead.

“I felt that I needed to do things for myself and forge my own career, instead of relying on my name or status,” Ewetse says. “As a Khama, I had so much choice in life because many doors were always open to us, I could do or be anything I wanted. But I have always felt strongly about communications and working with people, so PR seemed like the perfect choice.”

Working within the PR Agency division of APO Group has given Ewetse a grounding, and a sense of normality. It has also broadened his horizons internationally, and given him new perspectives on Africa after being educated in Europe. Ewetse believes his PR career – and his time at APO Group – will help make him a better leader.

“I’m a good listener, which is essential in PR. You listen to what somebody has to say, then you help them develop their ideas, and connect with their audiences. The key appeal to me is that Public Relations is really about creating opportunities for people.” 

Ewetse’s work with APO Group has certainly helped him do that. He has offered a guiding hand to many multinational organizations looking to navigate the diverse African media landscape. His experience and local knowledge has enabled those companies to succeed in markets that are often difficult to crack. Like all his APO Group colleagues, Ewetse is passionate about Africa, and provided customers with ‘on-the-ground’ networking and support.     

As APO Group Founder and Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard explains: “Not everyone in our team is from African royalty! But they are all deeply attuned to the people, country and region in which they live and operate. Ewetse’s extraordinary story epitomises our commitment to local expertise, and is also a testament to APO’s talent pool across Africa.”

APO Group holds a unique position in the Public Relations industry in Africa. Formerly known as the African Press Organization, it has been providing content to media in all 54 African countries since 2007. Journalists in Africa know and trust APO Group, making them the perfect partner for companies looking to develop their presence on the continent.

Ewetse is now looking to bring the communications skills he honed in the PR industry into his new role as a Kgosi – a Batswana term meaning ‘Chief’, ‘King’ or ‘Elder’ – where his responsibilities include fostering local consensus and governance while also promoting social welfare and the economic empowerment of disadvantaged groups.

“My time at APO Group has been an important part of my career, and I am proud of the work we have done to help our multinational clients and drive business into African economies. I have great memories of the people and the experiences I’ve enjoyed along the way. They will stand me in good stead as I take this next exciting step!” 

Even though Ewetse has now moved on to serve his community and country, he will be remembered fondly by his former colleagues.

“Ewetse will always be a valued part of the APO Group team – a colleague and a friend,” Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard says. “We will miss him, of course, but APO Group’s loss is Botswana’s gain. His nation is lucky to have him. I am grateful for the fact that, thanks to our fantastic team, our clients across Africa will continue to receive a royal standard of quality service!

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