Prime Minister urged to end hunger

Church leaders handing in the G8 petition at 10 Downing Street

Church leaders have handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street with the signatures of 50,000 people demanding action from the Prime Minister to end hunger.

The petition was delivered by Malcolm Duncan, Chairman of Spring Harvest, Mark Melluish of St Paul's Ealing, Anna Bishop of All Souls Langham Place, and Pip Reeve of Kerith Church, Bracknell.

They gathered the signatures as part of the IF campaign, a coalition of 200 organisations urging David Cameron to put hunger on the agenda during the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland this week.

"The shocking truth is that that one in eight people go to bed hungry every night, even though there is enough food in the world to feed everyone," said IF campaign spokesperson, Virginia Luckett.

"I am proud to work alongside churches dedicated to ending world hunger for good. It's amazing to see them come together to give a voice to the voiceless."

Mark Melluish, from the New Wine network said, "The IF campaign is terrific in highlighting the basic needs of the poor and offers the possibility to make sustainable changes to enable those with resources help those without."

One of the campaign asks from IF is a clamp down on tax havens and tax avoidance by large corporations.

A new report from the IF campaign says UK-linked tax havens are at the centre of a global financial system that encourages crime, corruption and aggressive tax avoidance in developing countries.

The report reveals that the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos - all British Overseas Territories, together with the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are now the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in developing countries, totalling $556bn in 2011.

The IF campaign said investment was often structured through such jurisdictions specifically to enable tax dodging in poor countries.

Other abuses they facilitate include the laundering of crime money, and 'round tripping', in which money originating in the developing country where it is to be invested is sent offshore and then returned disguised as foreign funds to qualify for major tax breaks.

The IF campaign estimates that developing countries lose some US$160bn of tax revenues a year from multinationals shifting profits offshore before they can taxed.

Joseph Stead, IF spokesman and report author, said David Cameron needed to push the G8 to end the tax scandal.

"The UK as G8 chair has never been in a stronger position to end the grave injustices caused by tax havens – if the UK succeeds in putting its own house in order first," he said.

"The G8 can start to put an end to tax haven secrecy by agreeing to public registers of the beneficial ownership of all companies and trusts, and making sure developing countries benefit from any tax information deal."

"All countries need foreign investment, particularly those fighting hunger and acute poverty. But this needs to be genuine and bring real benefits, not money disguised for tax purposes to enrich the already wealthy, illicit money laundered to bestow legitimacy on the corrupt, or investment designed to shift profits out of developing countries.

"We need to clamp down on tax havens and launch a convention on tax transparency to stop the flow of billions of pounds out of developing countries – money that could be used to end hunger."

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