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The meeting, which is hosted by the St. Kitts and Nevis Inland Revenue Department, is held under the theme “Promoting Voluntary Tax Compliance and Cooperation – A paradigm shift in tax administration in the Caribbean Community,” and will run from July 24-28.
Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards, while delivering the featured address at the opening ceremony on Monday, July 24, stated that a conference of this nature is vital not only to St. Kitts and Nevis, but all member states within the CARICOM region.
“At this time in our region, as we continue to grapple with the challenges inherited from the global slowdown in economic growth, we are acutely aware of our pressing obligations to our citizens to ensure that they live in stable states that create economic opportunities for individual prosperity and corporate growth and expansion,” said Minister Richards. “For every state in our CARICOM community has the common goal of creating, maintaining and sustaining an economic and social environment that stimulates innovation, productivity and wealth creation among our people, while at the same time affording us the capacity to provide the social safety nets for the vulnerable segments of our populations.”
The deputy prime minister said that the onus is on the tax administrators to ensure that governments receive the help necessary to achieve the common goals.
“As tax administrators, you have the invaluable role and tremendous responsibility in assisting the governments of the region to achieve these goals. You are the collectors of our revenue and managers of our revenue systems,” he said, while quoting a chief economist in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who stated that ‘a well-functioning revenue system is a necessary condition for strong, sustained and inclusive economic development’. “Our revenue streams fund the public goods and services that we consider that governments should provide for the citizens of the state, services that our people expect and that we believe they deserve. It is this revenue that provides for health and education; safety and security; transport and communication; and infrastructure and social safety nets.”
Minister Richards added that the tax administration itself can be “regarded as an intangible infrastructure that facilitate the economic business of government”.
Also addressing the COTA Conference, Evelyn Wayne, Director of Economic Policy and Development of the CARICOM Secretariat, said that the conference is testimony to the determination and strength of purpose, which standardizes CARICOM Tax Administrators.
COTA 23 was held in Guyana, where tax administrators met to discuss available options to improve tax administrations in the region.