17 February 2013

Ethiopia: Time for Just Taxes, Transparency


It is a pleasure to be in Ethiopia, home of the African Union (AU), in the year the United Kingdom (UK) chairs the G8.

Indeed, 2012 was a big year for us, hosting the Olympics. Ethiopia celebrated with us, with Ethiopia's women enjoying their greatest ever medal haul and Ethiopia finishing as the second highest African country in the Olympics medals table.

But it has also been a challenging year too, as Ethiopia mourned the passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. We congratulate Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his government for the peaceful and smooth transition.

The UK has been going through some challenging times economically. The British government has had to make tough decisions.

Yet, we are still committed to our international aid partnerships because we know what a difference it makes. The UK is meeting its historic promise to spend 0.7pc of its income on aid, and we want other developed countries to do the same. Ethiopia is our largest recipient of bilateral aid, and it is clear that it is helping.

One of our priorities for that funding is girls' education. Women and girls continue to bear the brunt of poverty. Investing in them and giving them an education can massively change their lives, and significantly increase prosperity for the economy.

Girls who are educated are more likely to marry later. They are more likely to get themselves and their babies immunised against fatal diseases and girls with secondary education are three times less likely to be HIV positive. Educating girls and women is the single most effective thing we can do to break the cycle of poverty.

Much of Africa's recent economic success - growth between five percent and seven percent - comes from women. An extra year of primary school education boosts a girl's eventual wages by 10pc to 20pc.

An extra year of secondary education can add 25pc. So I am delighted to be launching the Girls' Education Challenge in Ethiopia.

Working with Save the Children and Child Hope UK it will help thousands of girls to get into education. These new projects complement our existing programmes in Ethiopia which support around one in 10 primary school teachers in rural areas.

And 2013 is an important year for the UK as we take the presidency of the Group of Eight (G8) developed countries. We are focusing on tax, transparency and trade. Many of the problems that governments in the UK and other G8 countries face are becoming more common in places like Ethiopia.

For far too long, the developed world ignored the way in which tax revenues, which rightfully belonged to developing countries, disappeared as people exploited different tax regimes, and made a mockery of governments in the developing world. Yet now it's a problem we face in the developed world as well. We must work together to overcome it.

That is why we are looking at making international tax standards stronger and improve the way different countries share information. Collecting tax revenues is essential in making sure that the wealth from crops, land and other natural resources benefits citizens in that country.

Transparency will attract responsible companies that will contribute to Ethiopia's economic and social development, in the long-term, not simply exploit its natural resources for maximum private profit.

I am keen that while I am in Ethiopia, and during the UK's Presidency of the G8, we can work together to do everything possible to open up the country to outside investment, that Ethiopia can reap the benefits of.

Nick Clegg Is Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Copyright © 2013 Addis Fortune. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.