I’m not surprised to find 98 of the top 100 UK listed companies dealing in tax havens. Â You can find a bit of analysis at -Â http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2011/10/the-places-and-people-who-help-barclays-minimize-its-taxes/
The standard right-wing view of such stuff is that companies need such facilities to make the money for investment in global conditions. Â The implication is business is a dirty business and we’d soon lose all business if we took these tools away. Â Over the years I listened to many arguments on strategic success without ever hearing about smuggling and tax avoidance. Â One competes on quality, customerÂ satisfaction, international sourcing, splendid human resourcing, wage control, driving costs down, technology and whatever can be made into a management fad. Â Meanwhile your company pays corporation tax at 18% over many years when the rate is above 30% or directs your cigarettes through Cyprus or Turks and Caicos, hire private detectives to ‘analyse likely takeover victims and so on.
The eventual end-place for such real strategy is a police force of cheap Laotians paid for by drugs’ trafficking.
The argument that convinces many is that it’s a dirty world and we have to compete under the real rules. Â Since I played, foul play in both codes of rugby has become much more costly. Â England’s rugby union team now can’t win because its forwards can’t keep to the rules. Â Very few rugby league teams can survive an adverse penalty count. Â Soccer teams can’t level things up by kicking people in the air (sadly). Â No doubt cheating still goes on, but the rules are now enforced very strictly and Â video review works well.
We lack any democratic control over business. Â This is surely obvious (we even cheated on the gold standard when there was one). Â The question is what attitudes prevent us from international fair play in business. Â One is that we believe the current system suits us and it’s in our interests to keep the blind eye turned. Â I’m all right Jack.
Honesty is not the best policy unless foul play is more costly and refs are good. Â Are we so feeble-minded we can’t get this on an international basis? Â I believe most of us can think this far and then realise it’s hopeless and this is what happens to our politicians before,like Blair, they are bribed with the glittering prizes. Â Transparency is the answer, but the first to do it is effectively building a glass house and undressing with the lights on.