Update from the Secretariat
TIWB in a time of COVID-19
Our routine way of life has been unfortunately turned on its head these past months as the reality of the global COVID-19 pandemic hits home. Social distancing to fight the spread of the disease has led to curtailment measures including international travel bans to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Secretariat has therefore suspended all official TIWB onsite missions amidst the growing concerns.
Although all TIWB onsite missions are suspended, we are moving fast to set up secure remote assistance systems. The TIWB Secretariat is currently working closely with experts and Host Administrations to step up remote assistance as an alternative delivery mechanism of TIWB assistance. The initial results from pilot remote assistance missions in four countries are promising. The Secretariat is currently deploying technology solutions for video conferencing, as well as conveyance and storage of confidential information that will go a long way to ensure that experts keep delivering.
Meanwhile, real progress has been made on increasing tax revenues through TIWB programmes.In 2016, the Governing Board set the goal to reach 100 deployments by 2020. As of 30 April 2020, there are 33 completed programmes, 45 programmes in progress and 19 upcoming programmes. More than USD 532 million in additional tax revenue and USD 1.75 billion tax assessments is attributable to TIWB programmes and TIWB-style programmes conducted by the OECD, African Tax Administration Forum and World Bank Group.
Work is underway to test the feasibility of moving into the tax crime domain with five pilot programmes already initiated. The pilot host countries are Armenia, Colombia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Uganda. Specific Action Plans for each pilot country are in development, outlining possible ways to strengthen tax crime investigation capacity based on the OECD Ten Global Principles for Fighting Tax Crime. The maturity model based on the Ten Principles is already proving to be a great asset to Host Administrations piloting these programmes.
In November 2019, TIWB launched a new pilot project on effective use of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) data during the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes’ 10th Anniversary Meeting in Paris. Pilot projects co-ordinated with the Global Forum Secretariat, are starting in Indonesia and Pakistan. You can also read on our website about the progress made in supporting Egypt on Exchange of Information, together with other TIWB experiences, mainly from Africa, which we are highlighting.
Finally, I am pleased to report that a stocktake of the TIWB initiative has recently been undertaken to help the OECD and the UNDP distil a complete understanding of the initiative as a product, as well as clarify its policy, streamline processes, professionalise and define how TIWB does business in all aspects and advise on the next phase of TIWB’s expansion. Further details will be included in the 2019 TIWB Annual Report that will be available in the coming weeks.
James Karanja, Head of TIWB Secretariat
25 May 2020