Latest Developments, October 27

In the latest news and analysis…

French weapons
Jeune Afrique reports that the French defence ministry has released its annual report to parliament on arms exports and while undemocratic Morocco was the top African importer, Arab Spring heavyweights Libya and Egypt were second and fourth, respectively.
“Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fought the rebels with new French weapons: 88.4 million euros worth of military equipment was shipped to Libya last year (the most in five years), according to a report to parliament for 2010 published on Oct. 26. While Paris insists arms exports are conditional on the “respect for human rights” of the buyers, that criterion was not applied to the Jamahiriya… But ministry of defence spokesman General Philippe Pontiès said “as soon as the Arab revolutions began, all authorizations were frozen.” (Translated from the French)

Corporate warlords
A Nigerian foreign affairs official has called for a crackdown on the illegal importation of small arms into West Africa by “corporate warlords” from rich countries, according to the Africa Report.
“[Lawrence Olefumi Obisakin] said small arms and light weapons were the “weapons of mass destruction” in West Africa, in view of the devastation witnessed from their misuse and the destabilising effects they had on the region’s socio-economic development, including the Niger Delta.
Nigeria had spent more than $10 billion in the last two decades to stem the tide of recurrent conflicts caused by the circulation of an estimated eight million small arms, he said.”

Canadian expropriation
A coalition of human rights and indigenous peoples’ groups has released a statement welcoming the start of an international hearing into land rights in Canada.
“The case before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concerns the 1884 expropriation of over 237,000 hectares of resource-rich land from the traditional territories of the Hul’qumi’num peoples on Vancouver Island. The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (HTG) alleges that Canada has violated international human rights norms by refusing to negotiate for any form of redress for the expropriated lands, which are now mostly in the hands of large forestry companies, and by failing to protect Hul’qumi’num interests while the dispute remains unresolved.”

Consumers of war
In an interview with the Calgary Herald, physician and humanitarian Samantha Nutt discusses her new book Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies and Aid and the ways in which rich countries help perpetuate conflict around the world.
“We think these conflicts around the world have nothing to do with us,” she says, adding, “We are, literally, consumers of war,” through everything from our pension funds to the purchasing of cellphones, diamond rings and gasoline.
“The Canada Pension Plan has investments in arms manufacturers,” she says, noting in her book she provides advice to average Canadians on how to keep closer tabs on where their investments, and charity dollars, go.”

Tanzanian taxman
Reuters reports South African mining giant AngloGold Ashanti has started paying a 30 percent corporate tax rate to Tanzania after more than a decade of commercial production in the country.
“The government began negotiations with mining companies to pay the tax after drafting a new mining policy in 2009 and the subsequent passing of new mining legislation last year.
‘This is the first time that AngloGold will start paying corporate tax since it entered the Tanzanian market,’ said the presidency.
Australian gold miner Resolute Mining was the first mining company to start paying corporate tax in Tanzania, according to the African country’s minerals ministry.
Mining officials said the government was also in talks with African Barrick Gold , which has four gold mines in Tanzania, on payment of the tax.”

Social protection floor
A new UN report calls for the worldwide establishment of a “social protection floor” that would guarantee a basic, livable income for all through transfers in cash or in kind.
“This report…shows that the extension of social protection, drawing on social protection floors, can play a pivotal role in relieving people of poverty and deprivation. It can in addition help people adapt their skills to overcome the constraints that block their full participation in a changing economic and social environment, contributing to improved human capital development and stimulating greater productive activity. The report also shows how social protection has helped to stabilize aggregate demand in times of crisis and to increase resilience against economic shocks, contributing to accelerate recovery towards more inclusive and sustainable development paths.”

Mandatory harmonization
The European Network on Debt and Development’s Alex Marriage argues proposed EU corporate tax harmonization is a nice idea but may do more harm than good unless it establishes a compulsory minimum rate.
“The [European] Commission’s proposal is commendable for introducing a form of formulary apportionment which seeks to establish where real economic activity takes place by looking at staffing levels, sales, assets, etc. meaning that companies cannot simply cherry pick the location where rates are lowest. This would be a crucial step forward in the fight against transfer pricing abuse by companies that use subsidiaries in low tax jurisdictions in order to minimise their tax bills. Secondly this is a move towards increased tax cooperation.”

The failure fad
Bottom Up Thinking’s MJ argues that the development industry’s growing penchant for admitting failure is a good thing but is unconvinced that this newfound humility has so far actually led to any fundamental questioning of assumptions.
“It’s hard enough to admit failure in the first place. It’s even harder to admit that you might actually be the problem. And what matter most is what you do after you’ve admitted failure.”

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