Speech of UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Broek at III Tax Forum in BakuFeb 7, 2014
Dear Minister Fazil Mammadov,
Your Excellency Ms. Malena Mard,
Dear Ms. Larisa Leshchenko,
Dear Friends of the Media,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me express on behalf of the United Nations my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the professional day of tax system employees of the Azerbaijan Republic and our appreciation goes to the organizers of this forum, which allows us to discuss a very important subject - the tax system in Azerbaijan.
Tax policy has been conventionally viewed as an instrument for wealth redistribution; it is now more and more used as an instrument of structural transformation and social policies. Tax administration worldwide is also going through a transformation process as part of overall public administration reform and in response to the changes in the system of tax and revenues collection, and the necessity to reduce transaction costs associated with tax administration. Furthermore, information technologies and other innovations open up new horizons for more efficient tax administration and transparency.
Last year, the UN spearheaded a series of discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda globally and also in Azerbaijan. A lot of the ideas that people voiced are already reflected in the Vision 2020. We believe firmly that an effective fiscal policy is one of the main foundations that will allow Azerbaijan to work successfully to achieve the goals set in Vision 2020, the Post 2015 SDGs and a more sustainable and diversified economy.
One of the most important goals of Azerbaijan and other natural resource rich countries is economic diversification and reduction of dependency on the oil sector and this can only be 100% successfully achieved through more active participation of the private sector in various sectors of the economy – an efficient and well-targeted fiscal policy can be an important instrument to encourage the development of small and medium-scale enterprises, the backbone of the economy in for instance the EU, USA and increasingly in many other countries.
At the same time, even with the most perfect fiscal policies in place, they cannot be implemented well without building high quality tax institutions and institutional arrangements and require highly qualified and committed human resources.
The Ministry of Tax plays a key role in the implementation of the tax reforms, with a special emphasis on e-taxation and e-services. We at UNDP are a great supporter of electronic government and have worked with a number of institutions in Azerbaijan. We are glad to acknowledge the Ministry of Taxes as one of the leaders in this field - by 2006 the Ministry of Taxes completed the roll-out of the Automated Tax Information System (AVIS) that enables to run the tax administration processes electronically. The Ministry also initiated implementation of a number of projects with extensive use of ICT tools such as the Internet Tax Office portal; system of electronic tax invoices by taxpayers, and “Online record keeping” that facilitates online correspondence between the citizens and the tax agency… the list goes on.
UNDP sees its role as a global facilitator of knowledge-exchange and we would be pleased to partner with the Ministry of Taxes in the area of knowledge generation and transfer, especially in the areas of e-services and e-taxes where it has already made an impressive breakthrough.
I am confident that this forum provides an excellent platform to discuss various approaches that can feed in and further enrich the effective tax administration in Azerbaijan and elsewhere.