Remarks by Angel Gurría
12 April 2019 - Washington, D.C., USA
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear Mr. Achim Steiner, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to the third meeting of the Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) Governing Board. I am pleased to be co-chairing today’s discussion with Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The OECD is honoured to be a joint partner with UNDP on the TIWB Initiative, which is not only helping countries around the world build much-needed tax audit capacity, but is also facilitating domestic resource mobilisation in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). TIWB complements the OECD’s broader efforts to reform the international tax system in support of greater fairness, efficiency and transparency.
The TIWB Initiative is thriving, with 56 programmes to date in 35 countries, and another 27 in the pipeline. The OECD Forum on Tax Administration – representing 50 leading tax administrations globally – has expressed strong support for TIWB, which is delivering powerful results.
TIWB’s focus on South-South co-operation continues to grow, including through mentoring with developing countries, which are now sending tax experts to participate in TIWB programmes. South-South examples include Nigeria supporting Liberia and Mexico helping Colombia. We are also building a pool of industry experts to address audit challenges in key sectors for developing countries, such as mining.
Additional tax revenues raised by developing countries through TIWB programmes stand at USD 445 million. This represents outstanding value for money: for every USD 1 spent on operating costs, TIWB generates over USD 100 in additional tax revenues. And the benefits of TIWB are not simply financial. This is why we are keen to gather more evidence of TIWB’s other long-term sustainable impacts, including its effects on the investment climate, organisational effectiveness, tax officials’ morale and taxpayer compliance.
The TIWB Initiative is also benefiting from the increased and active participation of Partner Administrations, with 15 countries deploying their serving tax officials and a UNDP-managed roster of more than 50 tax audit experts up and running. And collaboration and partnerships between the TIWB Secretariat and regional and international organisations is continuing to grow which, in turn, is helping to extend the reach of TIWB programmes. Strong donor support for TIWB remains central to its success.
We are eager to build on this impressive body of work and expand the TIWB Initiative. And there are many exciting opportunities for growth! For example, new directions for the TIWB model could include greater support for criminal investigations, common reporting standard (CRS) data interpretation and joint audits.
TIWB demonstrates how 21st century effective development assistance should be designed, developed and delivered. As such, the OECD looks forward to working with UNDP to reach out to other areas of the public sector and assess how the TIWB approach could be applied to support developing countries’ efforts to achieve the SDGs.
We must also work on broadening the initiative to regions beyond Africa; for example, significant expansion opportunities exist throughout Asia and Latin America. In the coming year, we will continue to strengthen our focus on South-South programmes alongside our ongoing efforts to mobilise the support of OECD Members and Partners.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Your invaluable support for TIWB and your efforts to promote this results-driven initiative among stakeholders and the wider public is producing remarkable results. I commend the Secretariat for its impressive progress over the past two years and I look forward to hearing your comments and contributions today.
Let’s continue to strengthen our collaboration, let’s keep helping countries to help themselves! Achim, the floor is yours. Thank you.