Date: 15 September 2020
Location: Virtual meeting
Representatives from 40 countries and 5 international and regional organisations, along with delegations from the OECD's Multilateral Tax Centres, met to discuss the OECD's Global Relations Programme (GRP) in taxation, at the 17th meeting of the Advisory Group for Co-operation with Partner Economies.
The meeting took stock of a rapidly changing international tax landscape and the importance of supporting developing countries as they seek to strengthen their capacities in the area of international taxation, leveraging on technology and how tax administrations respond to and recover from COVID-19. The participants of the meeting shared their experiences of the GRP - composed of face-to-face trainings, e-learning, blended learning and virtual classes - and discussed the benefits and impact to their tax administrations.
More specifically, the Secretariat described how, between March and August 2020, 22 virtual classes were organised to replace the GRP face-to-face seminars which were cancelled. These virtual classes were offered free of charge to all tax officials through the Knowledge Sharing Platform. Classes were held mainly in English, but also in French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian. Virtual interactive classes featured chat, polls, breakout rooms, case studies and discussion forums. More than 6500 tax officials from over 160 jurisdictions were trained through the virtual classes.
The reinforcement of the use of elearning was also discussed during the meeting: the specific circumstances of the confinement as a result of Covid-19 created new opportunities for a lot of tax officials to train themselves with the Global Relations eLearning modules, as a standalone or to prepare for a virtual class. Between January and August 2020 the number of elearning users increased from 4 500 to 15 500 users.
Four new elearning modules were also created between March and August 2020, as a direct response to the COVID-19 challenges: Enterprise Risk Management, Beneficial Ownership, Tax Administration Responses to COVID-19 and Responses to COVID-19: Business continuity considerations.
Participants discussed the future direction of the GRP itself, acknowledging that there will need to be flexibility to make the required adjustments to the GRP in 2021, taking into consideration the COVID-19 implications. There was general agreement among participants that some of the topics would be best addressed in a face-to-face format and that these events should resume as soon as possible.