Pak Envoy Calls for Eliminating ‘Tax Havens’ Engaged in Profit Shifting

In his remarks at ECOSOC’s special meeting on international tax cooperation 2021, he underscored the need for member states to work together to stop the drainage of resources for sustainable development caused by illicit financial flows, as well as corporate and personal tax avoidance and evasion

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UNITED NATIONS- The President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram, has called for international cooperation on tax matters to help fund cross-border public goods and crises-resilient health systems for pandemic recovery and achieving sustainable development.

In his remarks at ECOSOC’s special meeting on international tax cooperation 2021, he underscored the need for member states to work together to stop the drainage of resources for sustainable development caused by illicit financial flows, as well as corporate and personal tax avoidance and evasion.

“There is an urgency to put an end to the ‘tax havens’ which enable profit-shifting practices by the big multinational corporations,” Ambassador Akram said, adding that a minimum global corporate tax could provide a way forward.

Additionally to improve the tax transparency, he called for multinational companies to publish accounting and financial information on a country-by-country basis.

Thursday’s meeting focused on on countries can use tax policy and administration in tackling some of world’s most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges – in an increasingly digitalized economy and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting provided an opportunity to address emerging issues of tax policy and administration related to taxation and inequality; environmental taxation, and taxation and financing for health systems.

Participants included members and observers of ECOSOC, members of its expert body on tax matters, senior representatives of national tax authorities, relevant international and regional organizations, as well as civil society and academia.

“We live in an increasingly interconnected global financial system with advances in technology that continue to reduce certain barriers to goods and financial flows,” the ECOSOC chief told the gathering.

Ambassador Akram said that taxation of digital economy could reap enormous benefits for developing countries by providing them their fair share. Undoubtedly, he said, the taxes should be paid where economic activity has occurred and revenues are generated.

The need of the hour, he said was international tax reforms and tax-transparency standards through an open inclusive legal instrument with universal participation. To that end, he endorsed the recommendation of the UN Financial Transparency, Accountability, and Integrity (FACTI) panel for discussions aiming at an agreement on UN Tax Convention.

“Since there is no single global inclusive forum for international tax cooperation at intergovernmental level, these discussions should also lead to the establishment of a universal intergovernmental tax body at the UN,” the ECOSOC chief said.

The Economic and Social Council, he pointed out, had embarked on a range of initiatives to ensure no country is left behind in mobilizing revenues to fund a sustained recovery from the pandemic.

Such efforts included recent guidance to help resource-rich developing countries to collect appropriate levels of revenue to finance their development, and to invest in safety nets crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the ECOSOC chief added.

A summary of the meeting containing all relevant findings and conclusions will be issued soon.

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