26 August 2014, The Tablet

Leading Catholic agency accuses business of exploitation

A leading Catholic aid charity has called on governments to focys more strongly on those who are living in poverty.  

A report prepared by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) at the same time calls for greater transparency and accountability on the part of big business.

The author of Taking Care of Business, Sciaf’s policy officer Jo O’Neill acknowledged that governments had taken some steps to tackle irresponsible business practices, but said there were still conspicuous abuses against human rights and the environment and sometimes even a tacit toleration of violence against human rights defenders.

In line with Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium she said it was not possible to rely solely on the “invisible hand” of the market and so-called “trickle-down” economic benefits and that there needed to be a change of emphasis away from profit and towards social justice.

The report also says: “we must demand more transparency from business, particularly those that wield enormous political and economic power. Those who harm poor communities and the According to Forbes figures some 2000 companies worldwide (but concentrated in the United States) command some $2.43 trillion in annual profits. The report draws on encyclicals by Popes Paul VI and Benedict XVI in response to earlier economic crises. A section offers a specific case history of the impact of multinational business on the poor of Colombia, where nearly 70 per cent of the population live in poverty. The UK is the second largest investor in Colombian industry.

The report argues that all economic transactions should be seen as moral as well as financial acts, and advocates strong government regulation where cases of outright exploitation and environmental degradation are detected.


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