Welcoming Remarks by Angel Gurría
Washington, USA, 22 April 2017
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear Mr. O’Neill, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to the second meeting of the Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) Governing Board. I am pleased to be co-chairing today’s discussion with Mr. Michael O’Neill, UN Assistant Secretary General, and UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. The OECD is honoured to partner with the UNDP on TIWB.
The TIWB initiative is helping developing countries across the world ─ from Costa Rica to Jamaica, Georgia to Egypt, Nigeria to Botswana ─ mobilise domestic resources, tackle corruption and increase investment transparency. It is fully aligned with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Target 17.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals which focuses on: ‘strengthening domestic resource mobilisation, including through international support to developing countries to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection.’ It is helping to ensure that the principles of the OECD-G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (BEPS) are implemented effectively in developing countries. It is an important complement to the BEPS Inclusive Framework ─ which includes 96 jurisdictions, including 12 from Africa ─ and the work of the Global Forum on Tax Transparency, of which a large majority of its 139 member jurisdictions are developing countries.
And it is producing tangible results!
Our own conservative estimates indicate that for every dollar spent on the TIWB initiative, developing countries receive a return in excess of USD 1,000 from taxes recovered. Since 2012, TIWB assistance has helped developing countries raise over USD 278 million in increased revenues. And this result does not take into account the flow-on effects for future tax yields in these countries!
The success of the TIWB initiative has been gaining increasing support from the international community.
G20 members have committed to supporting TIWB through the G20 Development Working Group Call to Action for Strengthening Tax Capacity in Developing Countries. TIWB was also welcomed by G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in their February 2016 Communiqué.
The UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development ─ which monitors commitments and achievements related to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda ─ has identified TIWB as a leading initiative to build capacity and deliver sustainable domestic resources.
Moreover, the Platform for Collaboration on Tax ─ which brings together the main International Organisations working on tax (OECD, UN, IMF and World Bank) ─ recognised TIWB as a hands on, practical innovation in their 2016 report to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, entitled ‘‘Enhancing the Effectiveness of External Support in Building Tax Capacity in Developing Countries’’.
And last, but not least, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) has acknowledged TIWB as an innovation in co-operation. At their recent meeting in Nairobi, I was delighted to preside over the launch of the first South-South TIWB programme, in which Kenya’s Revenue Authority became the partner administration for a TIWB project with Botswana’s Unified Revenue Service.
These are all concrete signs of the broad international support for TIWB.
Now we must work on expanding this effective initiative to all countries and regions where help is needed. Thus, we must increase our resources ─ in particular, the availability of appropriate experts as well as of the seed financing to meet programme and operational running costs.
And this is where we count on your invaluable support. We need your help in several areas, namely: (a) to encourage development partners to continue bolstering TIWB; (b) to deepen our co operation with the development community, including revenue administrations and regional and international organisations, in order to strengthen developing countries’ tax administrations; and (c) to generate political support for TIWB by sharing and disseminating actual results and its potential.
In the coming year, we will continue to strengthen our focus on South-South programmes as we also seek to strengthen the effectiveness of sharing of expertise by developed countries. Our ultimate goal is to deliver on our target of 100 deployments by 2020.
I commend the Secretariat for its impressive progress in the past twelve months. We look forward to receiving your comments and contributions on the draft TIWB Annual Report, the highlights of which will be presented by Mr. James Karanja, Head of the TIWB Secretariat.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The effectiveness of our tax systems defines the quality of life in our societies. One of the biggest development challenges resides in the efficiency and reliability of fiscal systems in developing countries. By strengthening domestic tax collection, governments are able to tap into sustainable revenue sources to finance essential policies and programmes for the implementation of the SDGs; to invest in the health, education and skills of the people who need them most.
Let’s keep strengthening this initiative, and let’s keep making a difference.
Michael, the floor is yours.