A campaign pressing the Government to clamp down on tax dodging visited St Andrews as part of a nationwide initiative being led by Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty.
The Tax Justice Bus pulled into St Andrews as part of a 53-day tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland to highlight how global tax dodging is hurting the poor in the UK and beyond.
Local supporters, including the minister of St Leonard’s Church, St Andrews, the Right Rev Dr Alan McDonald, welcomed those on board the red double-decker when it arrived in the town.
Local people were invited to learn how they can make a difference in the fight for tax justice and were joined by North East Fife MP, Sir Menzies Campbell, who spent time listening to constituents on the need to tackle global tax dodging.
Campaigners say that tax dodging is an injustice that keeps some people poor while others get richer, robbing countries of the taxes they are owed - money that could be spent on essential services such as health, education and welfare.
Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty think the system must be changed and that the Prime Minister should use his global leadership to end financial secrecy, so tax dodgers have nowhere to hide. The two charities want people to ‘Tick for Tax Justice’ by signing a petition that calls on him to push for measures that would require companies to report on the profits they make and taxes they pay in every country in which they operate and for tax havens to automatically share information about the money flowing through them with other countries.
Sir Menzies Campbell said: “This is a campaign we should all support. Some of the poorest countries in the world have their natural resources exploited by international corporations who pay no tax for their activities. Justice and taxation can make an enormous contribution to the economic development of less developed countries.”
Dr McDonald, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland and a board member of Christian Aid, told the Citizen: ”It was so good that the Tax Bus came to our street. Tax issues can sometimes seem so complex and remote, but the bus brought them near.”
The St Andrews event included speakers who were able to explain more about tax dodging and the impact this has both here and overseas.
Kathy Galloway, head of Christian Aid Scotland, said:”We estimate that tax dodging by some unscrupulous multinational companies costs developing countries at least $160 billion a year, that’s one-and-a-half times the total global aid budget.
‘‘It’s money that could be used to make huge improvements to public services such as healthcare and education, better enabling people to sustain themselves.
“By making changes to the tax system, people across the world can live healthier, happier and less hungry lives.”
n To find out more about the Tax Justice Bus tour follow it on Twitter @taxbus2012 and to take the ‘Tick for Tax Justice’ campaign action visit www.christianaid.org.uk/tax-bus or www.church-poverty.org.uk/taxbus.