where did all the money go?

At least once a week at work, I’ll realise I didn’t bring any lunch with me and need to run to the canteen to grab something in between meetings.  Every couple of months, the £10 note that I think is in my wallet – the money that’s going to cover the fact that I left the house in a rush to avoid the traffic – isn’t there.  I never know where it’s gone. I probably already spent it on coffee.

Fortunately, I work with some very nice people who trust me to pay them back, and they lend me some money for lunch (and so that I don’t eat all their snacks)

Some of the other people I work with, with Tearfund, aren’t so fortunate.  We work with people living in poverty all around the world. In 2010, the countries that these people live in lost £555 billion.  And they – we – know where it’s gone. It’s gone through smuggling, through tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and corruption.  It’s all illegal, and all that money could be put to much better use, supporting and developing the poorest communities.

We want to stop this flow of money, to make sure that it is used for the benefit of all the people in these countries, not hidden away to satisfy the greed of a few.   So we’re making sure that word of this secret siphoning off of money gets out there.  As Bishop Munga, who we work with in Tanzania says: “It’s hard to tell where Africa’s wealth goes when there’s a lack of accountability and public scrutiny – and corruption is shrouded in secrecy. That’s why the best way of tackling it is to maximise transparency.” 

This year, Australia is hosting the G20 summit, and we’re combining with churches in Australia and all around the world to call on the G20 to discuss this issue and to increase transparency and accountability about where their money goes. In particular, we want David Cameron to use his influence and his voice to champion transparency at this issue.

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We know this works – on 12 June 2013, thanks to the work of Tearfund’s Unearth the Truth campaign and others like it, the European Union passed new transparency laws to reveal the payments European extractive companies make for oil, gas and precious minerals. This will make corruption harder, so poor communities have more chance of sharing in the wealth. And following the IF campaign in 2013, the G8 summit in June made promises to increase transparency in order to reduce corruption.   We believe we can do it again.

On Friday, some of my colleagues got us off to a rousing start with a wonderful display of synchronised kangaroo hopping outside Parliament and the Australian Embassy to make sure people would hear the call.  Today, it’s Australia Day – and we’re asking you to take the opportunity to join us and make sure your voice is heard in Australia when the G20 meet.  There’s a lot of things you can do:

  • Sign the petition, asking David Cameron to speak out on this at the G20
  • Get your church on board: there’s a short film you can show, posters to use, and postcards to sign and send to the Prime Minister.  Our campaigns team can send you any material you need.
  • Pray: for the campaign, for the G20, for a dramatic reduction in corruption. We’ve made a prayer guide to help you focus on this issue.
  • And if you’d like to do some synchronised hopping to raise awareness as well, we’d love to see the pictures!