Transcript of the Video Message by Angel Gurría
28 September 2020 - Paris, France
Dear Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
As Co-Chair of the OECD-UNDP Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) Governing Board, it is my pleasure to welcome you to today’s important discussion.
We are facing an unprecedented global crisis with profound implications. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of our lives and economies, from the way we produce and consume to how we work and live. In this challenging context, the OECD is working hard to help countries “build back better”. Our COVID-19 Digital Hub contains over 140 policy briefs on virtually all areas of our work, as well as a country policy tracker and other statements and data. The COVID-19 crisis was also the central theme of the three Ministerial Roundtables we convened throughout the year in the lead-up to our 2020 Ministerial Council Meeting next month.
While COVID-19 does not discriminate between rich and poor, developing countries have been among those hardest hit. Domestic resources – the main source of financing for developing countries – have been put under immense strain. Sharp declines in global and domestic trade have lowered tax revenues from goods and services, and many Small Island Developing States are collecting fewer revenues from commodities, natural resources, and tourism.
In many sectors, Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) are better equipped to sustain the impacts of COVID-19, while Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to survive. In this context, TIWB remains an important tool to ensure developing countries collect all taxes due from MNEs. And there is much more we can do to help!
Today, we launch the 2020 TIWB Annual Report, which reflects on TIWB’s achievements from January 2019 to June 2020. It also includes information on our recent stocktaking exercise and sets out recommendations for the future.
Strong demand for TIWB assistance confirms that addressing compliance among MNEs is a high priority for developing countries. And with tolerance for international tax avoidance and evasion at an all-time low, we expect demand to grow further.
Developing countries report that TIWB programmes are supporting domestic efforts to implement international tax standards, as well as their participation in the Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. TIWB is helping build the capacity of developing country tax auditors through on-the-job experience to ensure that domestic tax laws are being applied appropriately and that governments are collecting the tax revenue that they are owed.
Our 2020 Annual Report report shows that, to date, additional tax revenues raised by developing countries through 80 TIWB programmes currently exceed USD 537 million, with overall tax assessments in excess of USD 1.8 billion. TIWB represents excellent value-for-money with a return on investment of USD 70 raised for every USD 1 spent.
Despite the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, TIWB remains ‘open for business’, thanks to measures that are helping our experts deliver assistance remotely. We are extending the TIWB focus to provide support in other areas of taxation, including tax crime investigations and the effective use of automatically-exchanged information, both of which will help fight illicit financial flows. We are also rolling out programmes to cover tax treaty negotiation and administration, tax and natural resource contracts, and tax and the environment.
To lead TIWB operations in this new era, I am pleased to announce that Ms. Rusudan Kemularia has been appointed the new Head of the TIWB Secretariat. A Georgian national, Ms. Kemularia has spent a decade working on tax matters, including as Georgia’s Vice Minister of Finance. We are enthusiastic about the new energy and direction she brings to the TIWB Initiative!
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In this crisis, we need to keep up the momentum to improve domestic revenue mobilisation. TIWB remains a best practice example of how effective 21st century development assistance should be designed, developed and delivered. This is critical as we usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Thank you for your continued support.