Each day the problem of illicit financial flows from countries across Africa is hitting the headlines. The numbers vary but they are significant and tax evasion is a major part of this. The scale of the problem across Africa is well-known. Nevertheless, we rarely hear about solutions available to African Governments and Ministers of Finance who want to do the right thing and align with international efforts in favour of global transparency in the fight against tax evasion.
There are also a number of persistent myths surrounding exchange of information (EOI) which ensure that EOI networks are less extensive than they could be and EOI instruments are used less intensively than might otherwise be the case. These myths include the presumption that EOI is costly and complex when the reality is that requesting information as part of an ongoing investigation is a straightforward exercise. Similarly, the myth persists that there are still secrecy jurisdictions and this acts as a deterrent to countries that would otherwise make requests. In fact, secrecy for tax purposes has been sliced away over the last five years through the work of the Global Forum and the most significant barrier to greater EOI now is a lack of requests that would allow developing countries to collect more tax.
The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information has now taken on the role of monitoring the implementation of automatic exchange of information. Therefore, it is well-placed to team up with local African leadership to deliver a programme focused on tackling international tax evasion and building a legacy of greater EOI capacity across the continent. Read more...(PDF).