When the news broke on April 3, 2016 about the leak of 11.5m files that exposed how the rich, including government leaders and companies, are taking advantage of offshore tax havens, the world has been watching the Panama Papers scandal to see if these new revelations will be a catalyst for much-needed change.
As supporters of a fairer system for workers, we are equally interested to see where these investigations will lead and how, or rather, if they will ultimately result in stricter regulations that protect seafarers, who often suffer as a result of the lack of financial responsibility shown by large ship owners.
In the maritime industry, we see too often how the increased wealth of corporates doesn’t filter down to seafarers and their communities. This week, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), released a press release that perfectly articulated what this news means to our industry and all others around the world.
Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF, commented: “The kinds of deliberate and extreme incidences of tax avoidance being run from Panama are examples of the way corporate power avoids its obligations to society, communities and workers. We’re pleased that these incidences are now being taken up more widely in a public arena and we hope to see action taken against those who have disregarded their responsibilities in the name of profit.”
The ITF has been pushing for action against corporate greed for many years and is keen to see these companies and individuals held to account, and for governments to follow through with their promises of closing the loopholes that allow tax avoidance to happen. In particular, the ITF would like to see FOC flags (the at-sea equivalent of tax havens) garner the same attention as offshore centres, to ensure ship owners can’t use the system for similar, unacceptable practices.
You can read more about the ITF’s standpoint here: ITF Comment on Panama Papers Revelations