—- holds 42nd Technical Conference of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators
The Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA), has advocated that in other to match the pace of advancement in technology, tax administrators must remain bound by the laws, regulations and codes that safeguard the sourcing, storage, processing and management of data.
This was contained in the welcome address of the President of CATA, Mr Muhammad Nami, at the 42nd annual technical conference of CATA holding from 28th november to 1st december, 2022 in abuja, Nigeria.
He noted that In recent times, there has been an upsurge of disruptive technological innovations in the business environment, adding that these have triggered peculiar issues that tax authorities are grappling with.
Nami who stressed that the business world is in a state of flux; while the character of data and its management keeps changing, said tax administrators are under compulsion to align their mandates with the changes arising from technological advancements.
Speaking further, he said “In diverse ways, all members of CATA have to deal with the challenges that transformational technology has brought to the commercial space and stay ahead of the conversation.
“As revenue authorities with common political history, the questions, then are: How are we faring? What lessons can we learn from each other?It is for this reason that this year’s conference has the theme: “Tax Administration in the Digital Era.” The theme has five (5) sub-themes to enrich the discussions and lay the foundation for stimulating constructive dialogue.
“This 42nd CATA Technical Conference promises to be a platform that produces a potpourri of ideas and solutions in a fast-changing world that requires sophisticated strategies for problem-solving.
He said, although these issues are emerging, many of it’s jurisdictions already have several innovative solutions to addressing them, saying the Conference is the right platform to cross-breed ideas and share experiences which they can all learn from.
He noted Further that harmonisation of tax systems is on the front burner of the fiscal conversations in many jurisdictions, but maintained that, It is a reform that must happen for the governments to plug leakages and shore up revenue.
“Some jurisdictions have achieved this, and they testify to its advantage over the fragmented system. Others need to learn how, why and what jurisdictions that have harmonised their tax systems have to share.
“You may recall that in my inaugural message, upon election as the President of CATA, I stressed the importance of strategic partnership between CATA and other tax organisations. I underscored the need to “work together, share experiences, and exchange notes and practices” and that “our individual development rests on us working collectively to achieve the short and long-term goals of the Association”.
While noting that the COVID-19 pandemic imposed several limitations on the Association’s ability to deliver on its objectives in 2020 and 2021, he however said significant progress was made in 2022 on a number of fronts.
“At the Secretariat:The Strategic Plan for 2022/25 was developed and approved by the Management Committee; and A Work-plan was also developed. At the centre is the core objective of forging stronger and more beneficial partnerships with critical stakeholders across the world.
“At the political level:(i) The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was held in Rwanda during which Togo and Gabon were admitted as new members of the Commonwealth. Consequently, the President will be sending invitations to the tax administrations of those countries to join CATA. Which means that new members are to be admitted soon.
“I believe that the strength of our Association will be further reinforced with the addition of these two countries. On International Partnerships:Realising that we have come this far through partnership, collaboration and engagement, and in line with one of the major objectives I set out for my tenure, which is, to expand the scope of our collaborations for improved tax administration, I am glad to inform you that:CATA has been admitted as a partner to the African Tax Transparency Initiative and the Asia-Pacific Tax Transparency Initiative. We believe that these programmes would further assist our member-countries in the implementation of global tax transparency and reporting requirements that facilitates the exchange of information between jurisdictions.
“CATA also joined the Asia-Pacific Tax Hub. This Hub, supported by the Asia Development Bank, has been crucial in strengthening Domestic Revenue Mobilisation and International Tax Cooperation for its members. With this membership, we believe that we would experience more capacity development for the countries of that region and ultimately improve revenue mobilisation for those countries.
“The African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) has been a friend of CATA. Over the years, the two organisations have worked together, albeit, on ad-hoc basis. In order to forge a stronger and more strategic partnership, CATA and ATAF will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the margins of this Conference. The MoU will seek to provide more opportunities for capacity-building programmes for CATA members on the African continent.
“On-going Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Reforms:In order to assist members in engaging actively in the ongoing discourse around digital economy taxation, CATA partnered with a number of regional tax organisations to organise consultative meetings/workshops facilitated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Such meetings were held in collaboration with the Pacific Island Tax Administration Association (PITAA), Inter-European Association of Tax Administrations (IOTA), Association of Tax Administrations in Islamic Countries (ATAIC), Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators (COTA) and the Study Group on Asia Tax and Research (SGATAR).
“Other partnership initiatives were undertaken with ATAF, WATAF and CIAT under the umbrella of the Network of Tax Organizations (NTO).We must understand that the road ahead is still long, steep and daunting. Our challenges only get tougher as we forge ahead because technology is transforming daily, and the trends are novel and uncharted.
“As tax administrators of the Commonwealth heritage, it is fair to assume that our challenges, in this regard, would have similar identities and similar solutions. It is imperative that we take advantage of the occasion of this Conference to share and discuss with one another the challenges we face and the solutions we are proffering.
He stressed that The conference will be an avenue to improve their individual capacities as Tax Authorities, as well as their collective strength as a body.
“Finally, I invite you all to look forward to an exciting time of learning, experience sharing, and networking while enjoying the hospitality of Nigeria.