Monet kehitysmaat havittelevat investointeja, mutta hyötyvät vähän tai eivät ollenkaan monikansallisten yritysten tulosta, totesi ministeri Hautala yritysten siirtohinnoittelua koskevassa seminaarissa, jonka järjestävät Ulkoministeriö, Kepa ja vero-oikeudenmukaisuutta edistävä Tax Justice Network.
Transfer Pricing Seminar 13.-14.6.2012Minister Heidi Hautala
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1. It is a great pleasure to co-host this seminar dealing with important issue in the current development discourse: the development financing today moving beyond aid and joint efforts to improve global financial system to better serve poverty-reduction.
2. In recent years, prosperity has increased in the world as a whole and the economic prospects of developing countries have become more diversified. However, progress has been uneven globally and inequality both within and between countries has widened.
3. In some parts of what now can be called global South, a kind of new treasure hunt has begun. Globalisation combined with peace and stability now prevailing in some formerly no-go areas has allowed better discovery and broader utilization of the abundant natural resources in the South - such as energy, mineral, forests and land.
4. As a consequence development today can benefit increasingly on rapidly growing private investments - both domestic and international. Official development assistance, ODA, has diminished in its relative relevance and should serve as a catalyst to allow better utilisation of the new financial flows to the South.
5. Yet, currently the financial system has some serious challenges from the point of view of equity and justice: according to the recent estimates the developing world has lost approximately 8,44 trillion US dollars due to illicit financial outflows during 2000-2009. This is via crime, corruption and tax evasion.
6. To correct this, we need to support sustainable and democratic management of natural resources in the South. Furthermore, revenues derived from natural resources should benefit the country of origin and evenly throughout its population. This can be improved by providing capacities to developing countries to create institutional environment conducive for responsible business but also through better and stronger tax systems.
7. But domestic development in countries hosting the investments is not sufficient: there needs to be further attention in creating fairer and more transparent global financial system. It requires joint action to curb the illicit capital flight from developing countries and to advocate for the closure of tax havens.
8. By the same token, corporate accountability must become a better norm: I believe that accountability, openness and transparency of the enterprises operating e.g. in the natural resource sector cannot be overstated.
9. My government has taken the governance of financial system more seriously than before: The Programme of the Government of Finland states that Finland will take a leading role in the effort to stamp out international tax evasion. The Government will look into the possibility of adopting a stricter set of criteria for tax havens and regions than that applied by the OECD. Automatic exchange of information will be promoted under double taxation agreements, and existing mechanisms of information exchange will be put to active use. The publication of country-specific financial statements from multinational corporations will also be encouraged.
10. These issues are echoed in the Government’s new Development Policy Programme promoting economic growth that reduces inequality, pursues justice and creates equal opportunities for all to participate in society. We believe that development cooperation must help developing countries in improving their tax systems and public services. At the same time we must engage in global action to prevent tax evasion and curb the illicit capital flight.
11. Finland is actively involved in some on-going activities to that end. We have joined the OECD Informal Task Force on Tax and Development, which we also finance, as well as Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information and Global Forum on Transfer Pricing.
12. We also subscribe to EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme, or FLEGT, which aims at preventing the illegal felling of timber and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (EITI) that increases the openness of mining and related industries. At EITI we will be at the Board in 2013-4. I wish to underline the potential the EITI has if we together take it forward.
13. We will also integrate domestic resource mobilisation and transparency of public and private finances more strongly to our country programmes where appropriate and promote the questions by policy dialogue, programme support and special projects.
14. Furthermore, we need to support raising the awareness of the citizens about global financial matters. Currently the citizens in oil- and mineral-rich countries do not know how much money their governments are receiving in return for the exploitation of their natural resources.
15. Many civil society organisations in the North and South advocate better global financial system and raise the awareness of the citizens on these matters. We were happy to receive a proposal from Tax Justice Network to co-host this expert seminar on Transfer Pricing that will facilitate open and frank discussion between different stakeholders on both technical and political matters as regards to Transfer Pricing.
16. I have learnt that transfer pricing is a major issue in international taxation. It is estimated that about 60 percent of world trade is intra-firm trade, that is, trade within multinational groups. Multinational corporations, in order to try to reduce their income tax liabilities, have an incentive to allocate income to low tax/no tax jurisdictions, and to allocate expenses to high tax jurisdictions. This means many countries target to investements, benefit little or not at all from the operations of the multinational corporations.
17. Transfer pricing is not, in itself, illegal or abusive. Yet, a significant problem in international taxation is “transfer mispricing”. It happens when multinational corporations improperly allocate income to low tax/no tax jurisdictions, and allocate expenses to high tax jurisdictions.
18. This seminar will present and discuss the current principles in transfer pricing as well as consider its alternatives by experts from academia, governments - both tax and development administrations - international organisations such as OECD, WB and EU, as well as business and civil society. We will hear diverse views and practical case studies from many emerging economies - like China, Brazil, South Africa - and developing countries of how tax revenues can contribute towards development and poverty reduction.
19. As desired outcome of this seminar we hope to have created a strong international and regional community to continue informed and inclusive dialogue on Transfer Pricing on appropriate forums such as UN Tax Committee, OECD Task Force on Tax and Development, G-20 and UN Convention Against Corruption.
20. I am particularly happy that we have here today a good representation of our partner countries from the South: Mozambique, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Vietnam. The starting point here, as in my Development Policy in general, is people having ownership of the matters that affect their own development. We must give voice to our partners in the South in order to support development on their own terms. Therefore I give special welcome to the representatives from the South.
21. Finally, we sometimes forget that decisions to improve the global development can be made in our own neighborhood: the European Union is currently finalizing transparency legislation which would require extractive companies to publish what they pay to the governments where they operate. The would take a big leap towards more open management of the global investments and improve governments’ possibilities to get more information on operations of multinational corporations.
22. In coherence with the Government Programme and Development Policy Programme Finland should strongly support the current proposal for EU’s Transparency and Accounting Directives that covers oil, gas, minerals but also logging industries.