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WCO Secretary General participates in discussion on innovation in taxation during the 5th ATAF ICTA Conference

03 noviembre 2021

On 03 November, at the invitation of the Executive Secretary of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the 5th ATAF International Conference on Tax in Africa themed “Domestic Resource Mobilisation: Accelerating Technology for African Tax Administrations”.  The Conference aimed at exploring the ways revenue administrations can use digital technology to increase compliance and reduce tax evasion, decrease administrative burdens, foster business growth, and improve their performance.

Participating in the first session on “innovation in taxation”, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted the substantial leap in technology and innovation during the past decade, which has transformed the traditional ways of doing business and impacted Customs operations. He mentioned the effective use of big data, the evolution of artificial intelligence, and the potential of blockchain to boost paperless trade, improve risk assessment, lower administrative cost, check documents in real-time and improve the transparency of Customs clearance. He added that technologies also help to improve methodologies and capacities of Customs operations through smart solutions in documentation processing, cargo inspection and cargo tracking.

Secretary General Mikuriya elaborated on the WCO’s contributions to innovation, namely the development of a Study Report on Disruptive Technologies, the publication of the WCO E-Commerce Framework of Standards that recommends the use of advance electronic data for effective risk management of cross-border e-commerce and the data analytics and screening methodologies in conjunction with non-intrusive inspection equipment, the WCO Data Model that responds to the data requirements for cross-border regulatory processes, the WCO Time Release Study for measuring the actual time required for the release and clearance of goods, and the WCO Compendium of Best Practices in the area of transit to ensure the integrity of goods in transit using, among other methods, electronic seals or electronic cargo tracking systems. Dr. Mikuriya also highlighted the WCO capacity building initiatives for its Members, namely regional workshops as well as global conferences such as the WCO TECH-CON that helps to bring together the private sector and Customs to discuss the use of new techologies.

The conference also brought to light the need for investment in human capital and the importance of cooperation between African countries to unlock their markets and avenues for generating more revenues. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were highlighted and all agreed that there was an urgent need to improve virtual systems of communication to safeguard data security and confidentiality. The participants agreed that now is the time to review processes to reflect the current working arrangements and to adopt a strong technical and technology orientation to equip Customs and tax officers with new skillsets and competencies. The conference was attended by the Heads of Tax and Revenue administrations and high officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Private Sector, Academia, International and Regional organizations.