MPs call for crackdown on global graft

Thursday January 28 2010

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

The fight against global corruption has moved to an international Parliament with lawmakers calling for a crackdown on the tax havens in rich nations.

There is also a resolution to prevent corrupt leaders in the poor nations from stashing their illegally acquired wealth in the existing tax havens.

The resolutions were discussed Thursday at a joint parliamentary assembly of MPs from Africa, Caribbean and Pacific nations and from the European Union (ACP-EU) meeting in Brussels.

Eldoret East MP, Prof Margaret Kamar, is leading Kenya’s delegation in the meeting that seeks to push the EU to help poor countries recover from the global recession.

Prof Kamar is the first vice chair of the Social Affairs and the Environment Committee in the ACP-EU Parliament. She sits in Kenya’s Parliament Budget Committee and in the Speakers’ Panel.

Nominated MP Musikari Kombo (a member of Kenya’s Parliament Finance, Trade and Planning committee) also attended the meeting.

The lawmakers pushed for strong tax bodies and judiciaries in the poor countries in order to curb tax evasion.

The rising food prices, high levels of unemployment and increasing poverty levels also formed part of the discussions in the Brussels meeting, which ended yesterday.

The resolutions will now be forwarded to major continental bodies in the EU and in the African Union, including the Pan-Africa Parliament to guide policymakers in the respective governments.

A draft report posted on the ACP-EU official website indicated that the MPs adopted to push the rich nations to honour the USD100 billion (Sh7.6 trillion) annual pledge to help poor nations manage the effects of climate change.

“Mitigating climate change is a huge challenge for developing countries but it should also become a chance, with the financial and technical support of donors, to promote 'green technologies’,” reads a section of the resolutions.

The MPs also pushed for “equal trade partnerships” between the poor and rich nations.

The Brussels meeting comes at a time when the world has its efforts trained on alleviating the devastating effects of the global recession.

Up to 59 million people are said to be unemployed worldwide and those 200 million of those who are employed are sliding slowly into poverty due to the financial crisis, the MPs noted.

The strong push to force the rich nations to take responsibility for the effects of the crisis is informed by the lull in growth of the economy in poor nations.

The MPs said the global recession was caused by a lapse in checking the money markets in the developed world “for which ACP countries bear no responsibility but will be amongst the worst affected….”

The stunted growth was as a result of a significant drop in export earnings, foreign investment and aid. Remittances were also affected as many of the migrant workers from poor nations got laid off.

The MPs from poor nations lamented that the crisis had slowed down the march towards the Millennium Development Goals whose deadline is 2015.