The South African Revenue Service's (Sars') chief legal and policy officer, Kosie Louw, has been elected chairperson of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, becoming the first African chair of the forum.
Louw will hold the post for a two-year period starting in 2013.
"On behalf of the South African government, I would like to congratulate Sars and Kosie Louw on his election as chairperson," Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a statement on Friday.
"I am certain that the two years of South Africa's chairmanship will be beneficial not only to the forum but also to the wider global tax administration community."
Gordhan said the position was important because the forum's current mandate expires in 2015, and it is during South Africa's tenure that a decision must be made on the best way forward.
"SA's tenure also coincides with very challenging times for tax administrations globally, especially when it comes to the exchange of information for tax purposes."
Promoting tax cooperation
"Optimum transparency and exchange of information are critical for improving tax compliance and increasing the prospects of revenue collection at a time when most countries face fiscal constraints," Gordhan said.
"International cooperation among tax administrations is vital in an era of rapid movement of money and people across borders."
The Global Forum plays a key role in promoting tax cooperation and the exchange of information among revenue authorities.
It feeds into the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Group of 20 on improving transparency on tax matters.
The forum is the largest consensus-based organisation working to facilitate the exchange of tax information between jurisdictions, an important step towards an end to secrecy.
"South Africa fully supports the work of the forum, whose peer review reports reflect a very good practice in exchange of information," Gordhan said.
Currently, the forum has a membership of 116 and is in a position to have a significant impact on how jurisdictions cooperate, not only in terms of transparency of information, but putting in more effort to ensure that taxes are collected and used in a way that improves the lives of the citizens of those jurisdictions.
Forum members must ensure the integrity and sustainability of tax systems around the globe.
"Governments have an obligation to create an environment conducive to economic growth and job creation - and to ensure that the benefits that come from that growth are shared broadly," he said.
"If this does not happen, we will be responsible for creating more inequality."