18 October 2017

Nigeria: FIRS Chief Fowler Elected Vice Chairman UN Committee of Tax Experts

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, has been elected 1st Vice Chairman of United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.

Eric Mensah, the Chairman of Ghanaian Revenue Authority, GRA, is the 2nd Vice Chairman. The committee is meeting for the first time after the appointment.

This election took place today in Geneva, Switzerland, where the global UN committee of tax experts is holding its meeting.

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guteress, announced the appointment of the 25 members in a United Nations Economic and Social Council notification dated August 10. The 25 tax experts were headhunted across the globe to sit in the Committee and proffer solutions to issues on international taxation and cooperation.

Five out of the 25 new entrants into the prestigious Committee are Africans: Tunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman of Nigeria's revenue authority--Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS. He is also the Chairman of African Tax Administrations Forum, ATAF; Elfrieda Tamba, the Chairman of the Liberian Revenue Authority and Chairman of West African Tax Administrators Forum (WATAF); Margaret Chikuba, the Chairman of the Zambian Revenue Authority.

Others are Eric Mensah, the Chairman of Ghanaian Revenue Authority, and George Obell, the Chairman of the Kenyan Revenue Authority.

The appointment is in accordance with the United Nations resolution--the Economic and Social Council resolution 2004/69--which established that "only 25 tax experts selected from among all countries of the world are needed to join the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, within an interval of every four years".

Other tax experts in the Committee are: Natalia Mora (Colombia); Abdoulfatah Arreh (Djibouti); Rajat Bansal (India); Mitsuhiro Honda (Japan); Cezary Krysiak (Poland); Eric Mensah (Ghana); Dang Minh (Vietnam); Patricia Mongkhonvanit (Thailand); Marlene Nembhard-Parker (Jamaica); Carmel Peters (New Zealand).

Others are: Carlos Protto (Argentina); Antonio Rachid (Brazil) Aart Roelofsen (Netherlands); Christoph Schelling; (Switzerland); Aleksandr Smirnov (Russia); Stephanie Smith (Canada); Titia Stolte-Detring (Germany); José Troya (Ecuador); Ingela Willfors (Sweden); Yan Xiong (China) and Sing Yuan Yong (Singapore).

Their mandate is to brainstorm always and offer, from their wealth of experience, knowledge of how the world can manage taxation for international development and cooperation.

Mr. Guteress, who signed the notification of appointment, stated that a total of 60 nominations were received for the 25 positions in response to a note verbale, dated April 27, in which the Secretary-General invited Member States to nominate qualified candidates for selection into the Committee.

Michael Lennard, Chief of International Tax Cooperation at the United Nations, in a brief remark as the meeting commenced, underscored the importance of the work the team need to do given the centrality of tax to development today.

"Developing tax now involves more countries, more civil societies, including NGOs more Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, more individuals, not just more Multinationals. More women. There is a lot more women on our tax committee this year. And more young people. There is a bigger debate.

"Enlarging the people involved in this debate not just in subject matter, but also generationally which I think is important in this matter.

"I also commend the organisers for addressing some of the trickiest, most nuanced areas of taxation, the ethical dimension, the issue of tax transparency and the issue of tax competition: a very, very difficult area. They are all the more important because of their difficulty.

"Taxes are at the centre of conflict and development and lifting people out of poverty and degradation and helping them to meet their potentials for the benefit of everyone. Putting that into context, the discussions today and the work of Tax Coop (Cooperation) at the South Centre, it is all the more important that it is held in the heart of the UN," Mr. Lennard said.

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