Green MEP for the South West has described the government’s autumn statement delivered by the chancellor today as another missed opportunity to help the economy work for the common good and leaves many issues unaddressed. Most crucially, she says, the importance of ensuring that sufficient revenue is generated from corporate taxation to ensure investment in green infrastructure and public services. She believes that the Chancellor's failure to meet his targets for deficit reduction – not to mention the burgeoning debt itself – points to a fundamental failure in the money system.
Dr Scott Cato, who is a member of the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee in the European Parliament and has special responsibility for tax affairs, and is Green Party speaker on finance, said:
"Plans on corporate tax dodging are small steps in the right direction but the Chancellor needs to get really serious about tax avoidance and also end his opposition to the Financial Transaction Tax. This could raise billions and bring an end to the cruel politics of austerity.
The recent ‘LuxLeaks’ scam has revealed the huge extent of tax avoidance in Europe and it is depriving governments of the revenue they need to invest in the infrastructure of a civilised society. The government must treat white-collar crime as seriously as other crime by enforcing its own General Anti Abuse Rule. To do this it is essential there are as many government employees investigating tax avoidance as there are accountants employed by the Big Four accounting firms helping corporations avoid paying their fair share."
Dr Scott Cato also wants changes to the way in which money is created in the economy, an issue recently debated in the House of Commons for the first time in 170 years. She said:
"Most MPs lack a sufficient understanding of money creation, leaving them ill-equipped to legislate on finance policy. With 97% of the money in our economy created by banks, they make vital decisions about the creation of money and where it is invested. This results in the diversion of money away from socially useful activities and towards speculative activity. The power to create money must be taken away from banks and returned to a democratic, transparent and accountable body. New money must only be created and used to benefit the public and society as a whole, rather than just the financial sector."
Responding to the news that the government is to fund a ‘Roads revolution’, with £2 billion earmarked to dual sections of the A303/30 and a tunnel under Stonehenge in her constituency of the South West, Dr Scott Cato said:
"The £15 billion ‘roads revolution’ is economic and environmental illiteracy at a time when councils in my constituency are cutting rural bus services due to lack of funds and average distances travelled by car have been declining. I want to see a railways revolution – investment in a publicly owned railway; and a revolution against fuel poverty – a massive home insulation programme. £15 billion on warmer homes and public transport would work for the common good and address climate change; the ‘roads revolution’ will take us nowhere."
Molly Scott Cato is the first elected Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar and is one of 50 Green/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. She sits on the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee.