Professor Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting, (Business School, University of Essex earlier spoke on “Tax Avoidance: The challenges posed by corporate elites” at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in Birmingham – and on 2nd February at Queens in Edgbaston, his colleague Richard Murphy will speak about tax ‘dodgers’ and the HMRC’s problems.

Following a reference to Birmingham minister Donald Eadie on this site, his book Grain in Winter (1999) was brought to the writer’s attention. One of his observations have sadly been borne out: “The new social machinery is giving birth to a monster that divides society into two tiers within education, health, welfare and housing . . .there is a chill wind blowing through our times”.

prem sikka 4Thinking rather of economic and financial ‘machinery’, Professor Sikka has reflected on the gathering of the rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum in Davos “often far removed from the concerns of ordinary people”.

He sees economic policies “increasingly formed to appease financial markets where vast amounts are gambled everyday though they produce little tangible economic activity”.

There is little sign that this summit will signal a change of direction. Oxfam’s latest report states that soon 1% of the world’s adult population will own more than the rest. In the UK, the richest 1,000 people have doubled their wealth over the past five years to £519 billion. At the same time, millions of people have seen a real decrease in their income and lack the resources to stimulate the economy.

Corporations are frequently able to hold governments to ransom: “give us what we want or we are off” has become a familiar call from companies to discipline governments.


The top 500 transnational corporations control 70% of the worldwide trade, 80% of the foreign investments, one-third of all manufacturing exports, 75% of all commodities trade and 80% of the trade in management and technical services. Making these ‘global behemoths’ accountable to the public is not on the Davos agenda.

Political leaders will talk about tackling public debt, a cue for more austerity, reduction in public expenditure and further privatisation of state-owned enterprises, often at knock-down prices resulting in huge wealth transfers.

He concludes: “International forums are increasingly essential to solve global problems, but they can’t be addressed by pursuing the interests of the 1%. A radical shift is needed to develop policies that place the interests of the 99% at the heart of the debate”

Read his article here: