UN the Only Universal Forum for International Tax Reforms

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 20 2017 - The Group of 77 has declared that the United Nations is the only universal forum that can openly discuss issues relating to international tax reforms.

With increasing reports of illicit financial flows having a devastating impact on the economies of developing nations, the Group is seeking a dialogue among national tax authorities underscoring the importance of the growing recognition of the central role of tax systems in development.

The Group of 77, joined by China, has pointed out that there is still no single global inclusive forum for international tax cooperation at the intergovernmental level.

While it may be indicated that a certain level of dialogue and initiative actions are taking place at the international level regarding cooperation on tax matters, the Group underscores that the United Nations is the only universal forum where these issues can be discussed in an open, transparent, and inclusive manner, “considering that other processes might be outlined from a perspective that safeguards the interests of constituents from developed countries.”

Speaking on behalf of the G77, joined by China, Carola Iniguez, Under-Secretary of International Organizations of Ecuador, told a special meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that efforts in international tax cooperation should be universal in approach and scope, and should fully take into account the different needs and capacities of all countries.

The subject under discussion was titled “International Cooperation on Tax Matters”.

The Group emphasized the importance of inclusive cooperation and dialogue among national tax authorities on international tax matters, and underscored the importance of the increasing recognition of the central role of tax systems in development, and stressed the importance of scaling up international tax cooperation and combating illicit financial flows in order to mobilize domestic resources for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Group also underlined the importance of coordinated and enhanced action towards eliminating safe havens that create incentives for transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows.

“We reiterate our commitment to work to strengthen international cooperation and national institutions to combat money-laundering and financing of terrorism, which have serious implications for economic development and social cohesion,” she told delegates.

In Africa alone, the estimated resources leaving the continent, in the form of illicit financial transfers, was nearly 530 billion dollars between 2002 and 2012, according to the Geneva-based UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Group also highlighted the need to strengthen the Committee of Experts and called on Member States, relevant organizations and other potential donors, to contribute generously to the Trust Fund for International Cooperation in Tax Matters established by the Secretary-General, to supplement regular budgetary resources, to enable the Committee to fulfil its mandate.

At the same time, the Group underlined the importance of an equitable geographical distribution of members of the Committee of Experts and invited developing countries, particularly least developed countries (LDCs), to nominate candidates as members of the Committee of Experts, taking into account an increased participation of members from developing countries with a view to reflect a balanced representation of different tax systems and to fully take into account the different needs and capacities of all countries.

The Group urged the Committee and its subcommittees to fulfill its mandate– considering new and emerging issues that have extensively affected domestic resources mobilization, especially illicit financial flows, tax evasion and corruption– with a view to eventually eliminating them through strengthened national regulation and increased international cooperation, taking into account the best practices and lessons learned on tax policy and administration.

Additionally, the Group urged Member States to consider the upgrading of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, by transforming it from experts acting in their own capacity, to an inter-governmental subsidiary body of ECOSOC, with experts representing their respective governments. This upgrading is necessary and important to allow all Member States to participate in a mechanism that is inclusive and participatory.

The Group said it stands ready to engage actively and constructively with Member States and the Council in order to make the global discourse in tax matters to be as transparent and inclusive as possible.

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