Action Against Tax Evasion Essential To Achieve The MDGs

September 9th, 2010

Eurodad Director Núria Molina will chair a panel discussing the links between illicit financial flows and the Millennium Development Goals at the Task Force’s 2010 annual conference in Bergen, Norway, September 28-29. She will be joined by Gail Hurley from the United Nations Development Program.  Registration for the conference is still open until the end of this week by clicking here.

Photo: Andy Mettler / World Economic Forum

BRUSSELS—The High Level Plenary meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will gather in the UN headquarters in New York from 20 to 22 September with a view to assess and accelerate progress towards the achievement of the MDGs.

Prospects for such progress look gloomy since all MDGs are currently off-track.  Heads of State and Government will need to move a step forwards and adopt ambitious commitments in order to meet the 2015 deadline. However, according to sources involved in the negotiation of the summit’s final outcome, this agreement is more likely to be a new compilation of abstract commitments than a solid basis for getting the MDGs back on track, particularly with regard to MDG8 “A global partnership for development”, including taxation and domestic resources mobilisation for development.

The final document is expected to acknowledge the necessity to crack down on tax havens, tax evasion and illicit financial flows, which so negatively impact on developing countries’ capacities to mobilise resources to achieve the MDGs, through implementing  measures to enhance international cooperation on tax matters, transparency and disclosure of financial information and to fight corruption and recover stolen assets.

In doing so, the final declaration would hopefully adopt a holistic approach based on the thesis that mobilising financial resources for development through tackling illicit financial flows would go beyond MDG8 and would decisively contribute to achieving all MDGs.

Regrettably, it is highly probable that the final agreement will not be accompanied by concrete proposals.

At a minimum, for the final declaration to be meaningful in the area of taxation and domestic resources mobilisation for development, it should include the following concrete measures:

  • Strengthening the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters by giving it a political mandate as the most inclusive and representative forum to address global tax issues.
  • Enhancing tax transparency and tackling tax evasion by calling for new international accounting standards based on the principle of country by country reporting and the disclosure of financial information by firms operating in developing countries. The US recently passed legislation on the extractive industries to this effect. Similarly, The European parliament has repeatedly called for such a standard. The World Bank too has publicly supported such a measure in its recent submission to the International Accounting Standards Board.
  • A commitment to work towards the adoption of a multilateral and automatic information exchange agreement on tax matters, a necessary measure for achieving a truly transparent international tax environment, as stated in the Civil Society Agenda for the OECD.

It is time for the Heads of State and Government to move from words to deeds. The 2015 MDGs clock is ticking.

Written by Maria Victoria Garcia Ojeda

Follow @FinTrCo