Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Side Event: “Collect More – Spend Better:
A Contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”


Distinguished Guests and Panelists

Ladies and Gentleman,

I want to thank the European Commission for organizing this event and for its contributions to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa last July. The European Union played an important role at the Conference and in its preparatory process. I hope it will work actively to implement the Addis Ababa outcomes.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda provides a comprehensive global framework for financing sustainable development, which addresses all sources of finance: public and private, domestic and international. It mobilizes the Means of Implementation for Agenda 2030, an agenda that is ambitious and covers a large breadth of issues and sectors and their interrelations, and that requires an unprecedented effort to mobilize resources.

Domestic public finance is central to the Addis Agenda.

As the largest and most stable source of funding for sustainable development, it should be at the heart of all countries’ efforts to implement global agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Fiscal policies and public finance should support the achievement of the SDGs and the related targets set by the countries, rich or poor.  To maximize their impact, it is important to understand the interlinkages and trade-offs between goals.   The SDGs are closely interrelated through targets – which point to synergies on which we should build.  

Hence, we need to ensure that public finance is not undermined by tax avoidance, evasion and tax-related illicit financial flows.

Besides quantity, the quality of expenditures also matters – making sure that national development plans and goals are most effectively and efficiently met. Parliaments have a key role to play in this regard. While the sovereignty of countries needs to be respected, international cooperation, capacity building and support can enable countries to better manage their public finances.

Increasing official development assistance for tax capacity and administration will be important and can be complemented by South-South and triangular cooperation.

Moreover, tax policies may have adverse impacts on other countries. These spillovers might include denying other countries tax revenue that is properly theirs. They may also include harmful tax competition, through wasteful tax incentives for example, which unnecessarily limits the revenue available for development. We need to do more to prevent such practices.

During the Addis Ababa Conference, several initiatives were announced in the area of domestic resource mobilization and taxes, including the Addis Tax Initiative with the support of the European Commission; the joint OECD/UNDP initiative “Tax Inspectors Without Borders”; and a new IMF/World Bank initiative to help developing countries strengthen their tax systems.

Importantly, the Addis Agenda stresses the need to broaden and strengthen the involvement of developing countries in the development of international norms for tax cooperation. The real and effective participation of developing countries is crucial if they are to adopt and implement new tax practices.

In this regard, the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters provides a relevant and inclusive platform. In line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Committee will now meet biannually and increase its engagement with the Economic and Social Council. We count on your support for the UN Tax Committee and its subsidiary bodies.

Finally, I want to seize this opportunity to call on all governments, international organizations, businesses and civil society to join forces and work together to resolve the imbalances in international tax governance, with a view to collecting more and spending better tax revenues in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development..

Thank you.