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Tax havens and offshore financial centres (OFCs) have seldom figured as prominently in media coverage of economic affairs as they do today. Interest has focussed on the concerns of northern governments and the interests of powerful transnational corporations (TNCs). The main actors in the debate are revenue authorities, corporate lawyers, tax accountants and financial journalists. By contrast, the world’s poorest countries are conspicuous by their absence. This is unfortunate because offshore tax havens represent an increasingly important obstacle to poverty reduction. They are depriving governments in developing countries of the revenues they need to sustain investment in basic services and the economic infrastructure upon which broad-based economic growth depends. This paper argues that off-shore centres are part of the global poverty problem – and that the interests of the poor must be brought onto the reform agenda.


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