Micah Challenge Australia Blog

 

The Micah Challenge blog is a space for discussion and debate about the issues of global poverty, faith, advocacy and justice and the Millennium Development Goals. This blog aims to provoke thought and challenge you to learn more about the issues discussed. We welcome your comments.

Micah Challenge is a global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice. Click here to visit the Micah Challenge website.

  • What's in a word? Improving transparency and tackling corruption in Australia

    Posted by Ben

    22 October, 2013

    Australia is one of the few countries that make a distinction between bribes and 'facilitation payments'. Bribing a foreign public official is an offence under Australia's criminal code. However, companies can defend themselves against this charge by arguing that they were simply making a "facilitation payment" to secure or speed up a "routine government service". And, as long as they have kept a record of any such payments, they actually have a proper defence. So, what's in a word? Quite a lot, actually. In response to strong international criticism of its relative lack of action on bribery and corruption allegations made against Australian companies, the government is considering removing this defence under law. The arguments against facilitation payments seem clear-cut and compelling: there is no qualitative difference between a bribe and a 'facilitation payment'. An increasing number of countries refuse to recognise any distinction between the two. There seems no logical or legal reason to draw a distinction between… read more

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  • Just Systems, Real Change

    Posted by Micah

    18 October, 2013

    Tax justice for developing countries and empowered communities supported by good governance will help bring about lasting change for those facing poverty, writes Matthew Maury. In the early 1990s I was living in Zambia, working with grassroots community development projects. During a trip to the capital city I got into a discussion with another expat that I bumped into. We covered the usual range of questions – who are you, where are you from, what are you doing in Zambia? I was quite surprised when he told me he was a tax accountant who had been sent to help teach the Zambia Revenue Authority how to improve their tax collection practices. Part of his work was to help the Zambian Government target international organisations who were not paying their fair share of taxes. There is a high correlation between an African government’s ability to collect tax and its ability to achieve the development targets laid out in the Millennium Development Goals. On a recent trip to India, I was encouraged to come face-to-face with impressive examples of… read more

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  • A South African businessman's perspective: Q&A with Graham Power

    Posted by Micah

    15 October, 2013

    We caught up with Graham Power, founder of Power Group of Companies and Unashamedly Ethical to find out why he's so passionate about fighting corruption in business. Unashamedly Ethical are a partner of EXPOSED. Q: What does corruption mean to you? What does it look like in South Africa? Corruption is a serious problem across the world – I view it like a sick cancer. It destroys every element of society, and we know from what we read in the Bible that God abhors corruption (Prov 11.1). South Africa is facing a few serious challenges when it comes to corruption. Our Transparency International ranking has shown that we are dropping steadily on the Corruption Perceptions Index – this shows us that public confidence in our government and business leaders is declining. We have recently had a number of significant scandals relating to corruption of public funds. What makes matters worse is that South Africa has one of the highest rates of inequality in the world. We need a just and efficient economy to be able to provide food security, health care,… read more

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  • India: shining a light unlocks free lunches and schooling

    Posted by Micah

    15 October, 2013

    “God has answered our prayers wonderfully”, said David Jayakumar in an email this week. Twenty children denied schooling in Alinagar, a village Bihar, one of the poorest states of India, were granted admission. David, who heads up Micah Challenge, is pleased that the children will also have access to free lunch, uniforms and textbooks. Church leaders had been advocating for the children to receive free education, a legal right in India since 2010 when the RTE (right to education for all children aged 6-14) came into force. But despite the law, the poorest children or those from ethnic minorities often miss out. Micah Challenge has been championing the cause of children in very poor areas of districts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh as part of their work to promote Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3, that 100% of children should attend primary school and that girls should have equal access to education. Meetings are held in villages with Christian leaders and they learn about how to advocate using their rights under the law. In the Bihar case, a… read more

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