Patrick Harvie calls for “corporate kleptomaniacs” to be cut off from public funding 


£500m pot of new investment funds should go to ethical businesses, Scottish Green leader says

FIRMS THAT DODGE TAX should be blocked from accessing the new half a billion pound pot of public money from the Scottish Government, Green co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP has said.

Following the announcement of the new investment fund, Harvie called on the government to set tough anti-tax avoidance rules to provide a disincentive to “corporate kleptomaniacs” milking the system, while failing to pay their fair share. 

The call at first minister’s questions follows a new anti-tax avoidance campaign from Oxfam, and revelations of money laundering and corruption linked to Scottish Limited Partnerships. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the SNP was pushing for stronger anti-avoidance rules, but had seen their attempts rejected by the Tory Government at Westminster. 

“I was very disappointed that the Conservatives voted against that particular amendment. It doesn’t sit well, I think, with the new prime minister’s stated commitment to taking on the unethical practices of some big businesses,” Sturgeon said.

“Companies should pay the taxes that are due because that is what funds the public services that we all rely on.” 

“Where we have responsibility we will continue to act accordingly,” she added.

MSPs back review of Scottish Government payments to dodgy corporations

However, Harvie asked for the government to practice anti-avoidance principles through its enterprise agencies: “The Scottish Government’s commitment to providing support for business in Scotland was clear this week. However, I’m disappointed that the first minister couldn’t give a clear commitment to bar tax avoiders from public support schemes, such as the newly announced half-billion-pound scheme of loans and guarantees. 

“Scottish Government grant schemes such as Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) have been available to companies which use tax havens and other mechanisms and Greens have repeatedly called on ministers to close off this support to them.”

There have been various demands for the Scottish Government to tighten its approach to tax avoidance. 

In January MSPs backed a review of RSA funding, following payments to corporate tax avoiders like Amazon.

Attempts to ban land ownership in tax havens have a central dispute during the passage of the Land Reform Act 2016, with the government backing down on original consultation plans to instigate a full ban. Following pressure, plans for a register of interests emerged to attempt to bring further transparency to the 750,000 estimated acres of Scottish land in tax secrecy jurisdictions. 

The Panama Papers scandal in April revealed that the UK is at the centre of a global tax avoidance industry. 

Picture courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV

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