Thursday, 16 January 2014

Big business and tax – News and views for Thursday 16 January

From this morning’s Australian papers.
  • Big business in charge of own tax – “The Australian Taxation Office wants to allow big business to oversee its own tax returns, internal documents reveal, despite the potential for conflict of interest, greed and even corruption. The Tax Office has been working on a “transformational” plan to fundamentally change Australia’s corporate tax system with companies allowed to use their own accountants to sign off on their tax bills, effectively outsourcing tax oversight to the private sector. But discussion papers obtained by Fairfax Media concede the plan, which will bring huge savings for the ATO, comes with dangers of conflicts of interest, greed or even intimidation corrupting the process. The cash-strapped ATO, which plans to shed 900 jobs in the next six months, has been working behind the scenes for about 18 months on the scheme, which would be open to companies with annual turnover of between $100 million and $5 billion.” - Canberra Times
  • Australia ranked one of the three best countries to do business in – “The Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank, has once again named Australia as third freest nation in which to do business, putting us behind Hong Kong and Singapore, and above New Zealand and Taiwan in fourth and fifth place. ”With an economy that benefits from sound fundamentals including monetary stability, low public debt, and a vibrant employment market, Australia has weathered the global economic uncertainty well,” the Foundation said.” - Fairfax papers
  • Opaque policy gets results - “While an intense border protection operation continues in great secrecy on the oceans to Australia’s north, it is becoming clear that the real reach of Operation Sovereign Borders extends to the Middle East, Africa and the mountains of Afghanistan. The Abbott government’s tough asylum-seeker policies appear to have discouraged many asylum-seekers from travelling to Indonesia to begin their boat journeys to Australia.” - The Australian
  • Australia turns back asylum seeker boat from Indonesia – “Australia has turned back another boat which Indonesian authorities believe was unseaworthy, leaving local villagers to rescue stranded asylum seekers from the ocean.Indonesian authorities have quoted the asylum seekers on board saying Australian navy personnel fired shots as part of the operation to turn around the boat carrying 25 people.” - Fairfax papers
One of my own you might have missed.
  • Out With a Whimper – “How the technocrat economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left India’s economy in tatters.”
  • Africa Attacks the International Criminal Court – “The court’s future now rests to a large extent on the battle being waged between African leaders with little interest in justice and those Africans, including many activists and victims, who see an end to impunity for mass atrocities as essential for Africa’s future. One can only hope that the welfare of African people takes precedence over the perceived interests of African leaders.”
  • U.S. Official: Afghanistan Could Become ‘Narco-Criminal State’
  • Deceptive Labeling: Brussels Plans Tougher Organic Food Rules
  • 2014-01-15_asterixSpecially Pict – “One of the many joys of the Asterix series is its unapologetic embrace of national and regional stereotypes – a form of satire that meant something slightly different in 1959 when the series was created, with memories of the Second World War still fresh… In Asterix and the Great Banquet (1965), Asterix and Obelix toured around France sampling provincial delicacies and poking fun at the locals: the obfuscating Normans, the hot-blooded Marseillais… The series has, however, in recent times shied away from its popular formula of swashbuckling adventures in foreign lands… Asterix and the Picts, then, is something of a reversion, though also a departure: the first book in the series to be produced without either of its original creators.”
  • Quick Question: Time To Leave Smokers Alone? – “‘I believe in treating people like adults,’ says Don Watkins, a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. ‘And being an adult consists of making your own assessments about how to nurture and enjoy your life.’ If some people want others to stop smoking, Watkins says, ‘they should have the freedom to try to persuade them to stop. If they don’t want to patronize restaurants that allow smoking, they should be free to take their business to the diner across the street. But when a group of politicians decides that they get to impose their ideas, judgments and values on us, that is far more dangerous than any cigarette.’ ” Disclosure of interest: Richard Farmer is a dedicated smoker.
  • Where In The World Is The Best Place For Healthy Eating?

The Healthy Food Rankings

According to the advocacy group Oxfam, here are the easiest and hardest countries in the world to find a nutritious and diverse diet.
1. Netherlands
2. France, Switzerland
4. Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Belgium
8. Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg, Australia
121. Yemen
122. Madagascar
123. Ethiopia, Angola
125. Chad
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