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Africa spends more money on roads than on health

Kenyan, Jason Braganza, is the Deputy Executive Director of Tax Justice Network Africa, one of the most active continental networks in the Tax Justice sector. Jason, in addition, is a regular interlocutor of the Tax Justice Network (Latin America and the Caribbean) whenever the South-South dialogue calls for joint efforts in the global agenda against illicit financial flows.

 -What are the central demands of African civil society organisations in the chapter on Fiscal Justice?

 -In terms of financial and tax transparency, basically, we claim four points. One, the implementation of laws that promote access to information, both from the government and companies, because we consider it an indispensable input to democratize research and analysis. Second, improve access to public data in the financial and tax segment.

In addition, there are two other issues of great urgence: increase and improve the publication of strictly financial and tax information, whether at the governmental or private level. Finally, it is essential to know the contractual data of the financial and tax sector within the framework of investment treaties that governments sign with multinational companies and with other countries.

 – How is the relationship of a sector as influential such as that of mining multinationals based in Africa with the national exchequers?

 -It is difficult to establish this link because, precisely, there is no access to the contracts that have been signed between the two parties. In general, the governments of the region have provided the mining multinationals with significant tax incentives and concessions because they believe that this money will be recovered  royalties.

But, centrally, we observe that the mining corporations assume the established fiscal requirements; although, unfortunately, we can not access the details of the contractual regime because that information has not been made public.

– In which economic region is the lack of inclusive public policies in the continent most evident?

 -It is difficult to generalize the state of affairs at the continental level; however, on average, the provision of health and education has improved marginally, while the physical infrastructure throughout the continent has been exponential.

 According to official figures from the African Development Bank, government expenditure certainly seem biased towards investment in infrastructure compared to budget volumes for education and health.

-Do African civil society organizations feel heard in the multi-sectoral dialogue that has been growing in multilateral forums, whether governmental or forums promoted by social movements?

 -To a large extent this does not happen. The multi-sectoral dialogue has very little volume in the continent. That said, there are some agenda that have seen some progress. Such as budget consultations, where governments have been establishing round-table discussions with civil society organizations.

 -Within the South-South dialogue on Tax Justice, what similarities and differences do you think exist between the African and South American agenda ?

-The big difference, of course, goes through the political context of the two regions, very dissimilar from the past to the present. For example, South America and Africa have been traversed by different colonial processes and, in parallel, they have processed the postcolonial period with their own particularities.

 In this sense, South-South cooperation between the two regions tends not to follow an equal peer relationship, because, basically, the South American economies are more advanced and influential in the global concert than those in Africa.

 -If you had the possibility of modifying a point of the global tax consensus, what issue of the world tax order would you change?

-The central consideration is the establishment of a global tax body under the auspices of the United Nations. This is the most accurate way to achieve a balanced and fair fiscal reform of the international financial architecture. This resolution would also facilitate a greater share of world trade to developing countries such as Africans.

As adopted from SES Latin America. Modifications have been effected where necessary. This interview was conducted by Adrian Falco of Fundación SES.

Photo credit: Panos


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About TJNA

The Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) is a Pan-African initiative and a member of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice. Launched in January 2007 during the World Social Forum (WSF) held in Nairobi, TJN-A promotes socially- just, accountable and progressive taxation systems in Africa. It advocates for tax policies with pro-poor outcomes and tax systems that curb public resource leakages and enhance domestic resource mobilisation.

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