Can the G20 pull together to end financial secrecy and curb corruption?

The world will be watching the G20 leaders in Brisbane this weekend (November 15-16) to see if they can address the world’s slow economic growth, the problem of anonymous companies and global inequality. As the host country, Australia has had the strongest voice in setting the G20 agenda, as well as in facilitating the relationships of the G20 with the business community, organized labor and civil society.

The G20 has a long history of working with the business and labor communities, and so it is appropriate that it now recognizes the importance of strengthening dialogue with civil society. The Australian government, as the president of the G20 in 2014, appointed a civil society steering committee, or “C20,” and provided limited financial support for its secretariat. This was seen as a positive move by civil society actors. Unfortunately, the Australian government delayed approving NGO access to the G20 media center until just three weeks before the summit, and then allowed only a few days for the civil society representatives to register. This process prevented many NGOs from taking part, and soured what has otherwise been a good working relationship.

It is important the G20's development priorities are aligned with the Post 2015 Development Agenda so as not to have competing global frameworks for development. While some degree of flexibility is necessary, we urge G20 leaders not to depart too far from the Post 2015 framework as it develops.

We anticipate additional progress this year by the G20 Anti-corruption Working Group with the release of a new 2015-16 Action Plan. In the financial transparency field, which is closely related to anti-corruption, the G20 has been addressing companies transferring profits into countries with very low tax rates. For several years, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has worked to address BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit shifting), which is an important issue in domestic tax collection for all countries. Financial transparency is also involved in having a public record of company ownership, termed beneficial ownership. We urge the G20 to move forward with the principle that anonymous companies, where there are no public owners, are not permitted.

 

Listen to a Special G20 Summit Telebriefing hosted by InterAction

On Nov. 12, InterAction hosted a special telebriefing for members of the press to hear directly from several leading NGOs what the Group of 20 nations should do to make economic growth more inclusive and sustainable. Featured speakers focused on transparency,  anti-corruption, tax fairness and the need for the G20 to scale up its Ebola crisis response and invest in health services.
Speakers at the breifing included:
  • Laura Frigenti, Vice President, Global Development Practice, InterAction (Moderator)
  • Brandon Wu, Senior Policy Analyst, ActionAid USA (Wu discussed the problem of tax avoidance and need for reform.)
  • David McNair, Director of Transparency, ONE Campaign (McNair examined the costs of corruption for the developing world.)
  • Shannon Scribner, Humanitarian Policy Manager, Oxfam America (Scribner explored the need for the G20 to scale up its Ebola crisis response and invest in health services.)
  • Shruti Shah, Senior Policy Director, Transparency International-USA (Shah discussed ongoing transparency challenges and beneficial ownership issues.)