Official statistics informing on green economy

An International Seminar on Green Economy and Official Statistics will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea on 6–8 July

This Seminar is being organized by DESA’s Statistics Division, in collaboration with Statistics Korea, the national statistics office of the Republic of Korea. A green economy has been recognized as one of the critical development models for the future which improves well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The concept of a green economy has become a centre of policy debates in recent years. During the recent global financial crisis, the UN General Assembly and several UN agencies underscored that the crisis represented an opportunity to promote green economy initiatives as part of the stimulus packages being put in place to support the recovery.

The General Assembly has decided that one of the major themes for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro is “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.” The following outcomes are envisaged from the Seminar:

  • A recognition that official statistics will be required to inform on green economy issues and that national statistical systems will accordingly need to adapt.
  • An emerging understanding of the key issues/indicators that official statistics will need to focus on.
  • A sense of the work that international agencies and the United Nations Statistical Commission might best focus on, over and above what they are already doing, to support countries in this work.

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Enhanced knowledge-sharing on e-governance

Conference on e-Government in Asia and the Pacific to enhance e-Government policy making capacity was organized in Seoul, Republic of Korea on 11-13 May

The conference was organized by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) through the UN Project Office on Governance (UNPOG) and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The purpose was to enhance e-government policy making capacity and the conference also provided an opportunity through the Chief Information Officer’s (CIOs) and the e-Government Officials’ Forum to discuss e-government policy issues, institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks and strategies in the region.

The conference resulted in enhanced experience and knowledge-sharing among CIOs and e-government officials while exploring ways to enhance cooperation among Asia-Pacific e-government officials. A summary of its deliberations, including the list of validated CIO/e-government officials is to be prepared.

United Nations Public Administration Country Studies (UNPACS) was introduced to the audience and received recognition and many compliments. Several countries expressed interest in contributing to these studies particularly in the area of e-government at the country level.

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With a focus on transfer pricing for developing countries

An Informal Meeting on Practical Transfer Pricing Issues for Developing Countries was held in New York on 7-8 June

The event was organized by the Financing for Development Office (FfDO) of DESA, in cooperation with three NGOs, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Center of Concern and Christian Aid. The main objective of the event was to discuss draft chapters of the UN Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries, which is being prepared by a subcommittee of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, with the view of ensuring that developing country perspectives, priorities and experiences are fully represented in the Manual.

The meeting featured presentations by Committee members, Government representatives, OECD, IMF, Academia, Civil Society, the Business Sector and FfDO/DESA. Assistant Secretary-General Jomo Kwame Sundaram delivered a keynote address on the burdens of complexity and the disproportionate effect of these on developing countries in this area.

The morning session on the first day focused on: (1) the role of the UN in international tax cooperation; (2) the impact of transfer pricing on sustainable development and possible responses; and (3) overview of specific transfer pricing issues on the agenda of the international community. This session, aiming to familiarize the UN delegations with the issue of transfer pricing and the costs to development of “improper pricing” by multinational enterprises, was well attended and positively assessed by many UN delegates.

The remaining sessions were of a practical and rather technical nature, as transfer pricing involves very technical issues of what profits can probably be ascribed to activities and functions located in a particular country, by comparison to what would happen between independent entities. Each session began with panel presentations on country experiences focused on a draft chapter of the Manual, followed by interactive discussions.

During the discussions, the following issues were emphasized: (1) the importance of the Manual as a tool for developing countries in dealing with complex transactions; (2) the critical importance of capacity building in developing countries in the area of transfer pricing; (3) how much flexibility should there be within the “arm’s length” price, and could more flexible approaches reduce the costs and resource implications of transfer pricing analysis, especially for developing countries?; and (4) the need for dispute resolution mechanism, which would give equal footing to developed and developing countries.

As a result of the meeting, new developing country inputs will be introduced into the draft chapters of the Manual. A report on the meeting will be submitted to the annual session of the Committee in October 2011.

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Updating the UN Model Double Taxation Convention

Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on “2011 Update of the UN Model Double Taxation Convention” was arranged in New York on 9-10 June

The meeting was arranged by DESA’s Financing for Development Office with the purpose of bringing together Members of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters and other specialists with expertise in international taxation and tax treaties in order to consider the 2011 update of the UN Model, with a view to assisting the Committee in making it as modern, developing country needs-responsive, polished and consistent as possible. It will be the first update of the Model since 1999 and should set the scene for more regular updates of the Model, which is heavily relied on by developing countries in double tax treaty negotiations.

Following a short session devoted to general considerations and reflections, the discussions spanned all 30 Articles of the UN Model and their commentaries. The focus remained on what could realistically be agreed upon by the Committee during its annual session in October 2011. The Secretariat also recorded the longer-term proposals that naturally emerged from these discussions for the future work of the Committee.

The following issues were emphasized: (1) the wide reliance of developing countries on the UN Model in their bilateral treaty negotiations; (2) the importance of finalizing the update of the UN Model during the annual session of the Committee in October 2011 for the benefit of such countries; and (3) the need for more frequent updates to the UN Model. It was also agreed that a background paper considering inclusion of developing country positions in the UN Model or as a separate document would be prepared for the 2011 session of the Committee.

As a result of the meeting, a draft of the 2011 update of the UN Model was verified and refined for further consideration by the Committee at its annual session in Geneva on 24-28 October. A report on the meeting will also be submitted to the annual session of the Committee.

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Launch of Russian version of the E-Government Interoperability Interactive Course

DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) recently launched the Russian version of the E-Government Interoperability Interactive Course

The translation of the course was a joint initiative of DPADM and the Institute of the Information Society (IIS), Russia. The course highlights the value of e-government interoperability and the steps required to achieve effective interoperability. It explains the standards and architecture in interoperability, and the Government Interoperability Framework (GIF) and its development.

It is available at the UNPAN Online Training Centre free of charge, with government officials as its target audience, especially those from developing, post-conflict and post-crisis countries:

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