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  • Activists perform as clients of Offshore companies during a protest in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

    Activists perform as clients of Offshore companies during a protest in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2016
Opinion

A letter signed by some of the world's top economists comes after the Panama Papers revealed global elites are evading taxes.

Over 300 leading economists from 30 countries have written to world leaders to explain that there is no economic justification for allowing tax havens while urging them to lift the veil on offshore secrecy, according to a press release issued by Oxfam on Monday.

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The letter, which Oxfam coordinated, came the same day the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released details on thousands of people involved in the Panama Papers scandal, and ahead of the British government’s anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday.

“The existence of tax havens does not add to overall global wealth or well-being; they serve no useful economic purpose,” the letter reads. “Whilst these jurisdictions undoubtedly benefit some rich individuals and multinational corporations, this benefit is at the expense of others, and they therefore serve to increase inequality.”

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The statement from the charity made reference to the Panama Papers debacle that has exposed how some of the world’s wealthiest people avoid taxes by setting up offshore shell companies.

“As the Panama Papers and other recent exposés have revealed, the secrecy provided by tax havens fuels corruption and undermines countries' ability to collect their fair share of taxes,” it said. “While all countries are hit by tax dodging, poor countries are proportionately the biggest losers, missing out on at least US$170bn of taxes annually as a result.”

The letter sent to world leaders accrued some high-profile signatures including Olivier Blanchard, former IMF chief economist and professors from top global institutions such as Harvard, Oxford and London School of Economics.

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