The OECD has smelt the coffee

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Angel Gurr??a, secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has an article in the Guardian this morning. I admit to some pleasure in reading it: there are clear signs that the OECD is moving its position and that it is quite clearly listening to what we have been saying to it, and proving with hard evidence, over a number of years. So it says (and I summarise)

The global economic slowdown will hit the poorest nations hardest. ... In these circumstances it is more important than ever that rich countries deliver on aid promises.

As world leaders head to Doha for a UN meeting on financing for development this Saturday, however, another dimension of the issue needs urgent attention: tax systems.

Efficient tax systems underpin development.

But there's a dark side. Tax dodgers in developed and developing countries deprive governments of revenues. Many take advantage of the lack of transparency in tax havens. Developing countries are estimated to lose to tax havens almost three times what they get from developed countries in aid. If taxes on assets hidden by tax dodgers were collected in their owners' jurisdictions, billions of dollars could become available for financing development.

Fighting tax evasion calls for cooperation between developed and developing countries. .... Internationally, they must push for greater transparency in cross-border financial transactions.

As incoming G20 chair, Britain must take up this challenge. .... Ties with Commonwealth countries and dependencies that operate as offshore financial centres make it uniquely well placed to push for improved standards of transparency. At the same time, it can give a lead in helping developing countries improve their tax administration.

With all of which I wholeheartedly agree - especially where emphasis has been added. The only issues I have (and there is much more in the article) are with the following:

The OECD's decade-long drive against tax havens and evasion is bearing fruit in the form of bilateral treaties aimed at improving transparency and exchange of information.

TIEAs are not the solution to this problem. And:

Earlier this week, OECD donors joined in an Aid Pledge to maintain aid flows consistent with promises at Gleneagles and elsewhere. If combined with a joint effort to fight tax evasion, the results for development could be significant. The OECD, as the leading international organisation with a mandate to work on tax policy, is committed to this objective. More effective tax systems in developed and developing countries would help to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy. And they would help the poorest the most.

It's true, the OECD is the organisation with the strongest resources with a mandate to work on international tax policy. But it should not imply as a result that it is the only organisation with that mandate. The UN has a tax committee which could, and theoretically does, represent all the nations affected. Developing countries are excluded from the OECD's considerations. The OECD has to embrace the UN's position if this is to work. It is a minor, but incredibly important, development which the OECD has to to recognise as important. Then we would really see progress.

PS For the TJN view on this see here.