Sunday Mail (UK)
Amazon will be paid £15m for trace app
Web giants Amazon will be paid an estimated £15million for a NHS contract that includes work on the new Covid-19 tracing app.
The US company’s computing arm AWS is working with the Scottish Government on the new Protect Scotland app, launched last week.
But campaigners have criticised giving an NHS contract to a Jeff Bezos’s firm, which has been accused of shortchanging the taxman.
NHS Education for Scotland confirmed the contract is worth about £15million in public funds over 10 years – but said the duration could change.
Paul Monaghan, chief executive of Fair Tax Mark, which has singled out the tech firm over tax issues, said: “Amazon refuses to say how much income and profit it makes in the UK and the taxes it pays on this.
“But we know from their US report and accounts that the web services arm is extremely lucrative and makes up more than half of all profits worldwide. Questions need to be asked as to whether Scotland is getting value for money.”
Alex Cobham, of Tax Justice Network, said: “Like many multinationals, Amazon pays very little tax in the UK. With the pandemic laying bare the need to reverse the decade of funding cuts to our public health system, these lost revenues are sorely missed.
“While the Scottish Government may not have full taxing powers, it can still take some important steps. First would be that any business receiving public funds is required to provide full transparency of its taxes.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “Rewarding companies who don’t pay their fair share of tax is just the wrong message to send.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said only firms meeting the
Fair Tax Mark — an independent assessment that says it pays the correct rate of corporation tax — and treat staff fairly should be given Scots Government contracts. He added: “Amazon fails both these tests.”
The app has been downloaded by more than
800,000 users. An NHS Education for Scotland spokesman said: “The contract was a full Official Journal of European Union process and was won by AWS after a rigorous evaluation process in competition with other companies.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said corporation tax “is the responsibility of the UK Government”.
An AWS spokesperson said: “Public sector organisations in the UK use the UK branch of AWS Europe, which registers its sales in the UK and pays all applicable taxes, due on its profits, directly to HMRC.”