Peter Oborne: Tax dodgers should be shamed
Speaking at a debate at Christ Church Spitalfields, Peter Oborne said: "People and companies who don’t pay tax should be shamed.
"I believe as citizens and as political beings on the left or the right that we have a duty to shame companies that don’t pay their taxes, that don’t fulfill their civic duties."
The debate was organised by Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty as part of their nationwide Tax Justice Bus tour.
Mr Oborne said he supported the Tax Justice campaign because there was a "very strong moral case" for paying tax.
"I absolutely believe that we belong to a community. We’re all in this together, as the Prime Minister has said," he said.
He continued: "We have an interest in the welfare of our fellow citizens. Just from a nakedly capitalist point of view, you want well trained employees that have received a good education, a good transport system and health services."
Mr Oborne was joined on the debating panel by Dr Richard Wellings from the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Dr Wellings suggested that some governments were too corrupt to spend tax revenues legitimately.
"In many ways it’s probably a good thing that the Zambian Government and many other African governments don’t have much money to spend. Let’s face it, it’s the government we’re talking about here, not the people, and most of these governments are hugely corrupt," he said.
This was contested by Savior Mwamba, Director of the Centre for Trade Policy and Development in Zambia, who said Dr Wellings was representing an old fashioned approach that was out of touch with reality.
"We see this Western stereotypical view that doesn’t understand the realities. The reality is that when Zambia’s annual budget share from taxes increased we immediately saw an increase in education spending. So I don’t know what kind of theory he is talking about but what I see in reality is definitely that tax revenue has a role in uplifting people’s welfare."
He added: "The Government of Zambia raises more tax from individual citizens like me than through corporations because even if we wanted to, we wouldn’t have the means to do it. We’re not asking companies to pay more than they should, we’re just asking them to pay what they’re supposed to pay."
The Tax Justice campaign is touring across the UK in a red double-decker bus over two months to raise awareness of the huge cost to developing countries of tax evasion, estimated by Christian Aid at $160bn a year.
On the web: www.christian-aid.org.uk/taxbus