17 November 2017

Cameroon: Tax Information Exchange - Reaping Fruits Already

Since June 2016, the country has made 20 requests to nine jurisdictions and has received 11 responses so far.

Cameroon has started benefiting from belonging to the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, an official of the country's Directorate General of Taxation has said. Roland Atanga Fongue, Head of Division of Legislation and International Fiscal Relations, told Cameroon Tribune on the sidelines of the 10th plenary meeting of the Global Forum that the country has so far made 20 requests to nine member countries.

Of the number, he said they have already received 11 responses. According to the Head of Division, they are now carrying out audits to ascertain whether the suspected entities are actually guilty of international tax evasion and illicit financial flow. Should the corporate bodies be found wanting in tax compliance, Roland Atanga Fongue said administrative/judicial sanctions will follow suit.

We learned Cameroon joined the Global Forum in 2012. Since joining, the country has made progress in terms of commitment to tax transparency and the exchange of information. Cameroon underwent a peer review of its own implementation of set standards and received a 'Largely Complaint' rating in 2016.

However, members of the Global Forum have agreed to carry out a second review to ensure continued compliance with, and implementation of the Exchange of Information on Request standard. Some 141 member countries are involved.

Cameroon's hosting of the 10th plenary meeting of the Global Forum in Yaounde, after the first one held on the continent in Cape Town - South Africa in 2012, appears to be diplomatic victory. Besides attracting some 140 delegations and tens of international organizations from different countries, it is in no small way boosting the economy, particularly the tourism sector.

Though statistics of the scourge of tax evasion and illicit financial flow are yet to be documented in the country, the damage on the African continent is far reaching. Going by a 2015 report by the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa (HLP), chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, Africa lost in excess of US$50billion (over FCFA 28 trillion) annually between 2000 and 2008.

The amount lost from Africa surpasses the official development assistance to the continent, which stood at US$46.1billion (over FCFA26 trillion) in 2012. Illicit financial outflow has been noted for draining of foreign exchange reserves, reducing tax collection, canceling out of investment inflows and worsening poverty in Africa.

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