Curtain comes down on the 36th Annual Technical Conference

With the great pomp and pageantry that is done so well in Malaysia, the 36th Technical Conference drew to a close on the 20th November, 2015 at the historic port city of Melaka. In spite of being weighed down by the five days of intense discussions on very demanding topics, the delegates had nothing but praise for the host- the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia. “We expected a good Conference”, commented one delegate, “but what we got was the best".  (Read the final communique

The Conference was officially opened by Malaysia Minister of Finance II Dato’ Haji Johari Abdul Ghani and was attended by over 130 delegates comprising Commissioners General and heads of tax administrations, tax practitioners from the private sector, business sector representatives, academicians and representatives of international organizations involved in tax research.

Speakers to the Conference were drawn from eminent personalities with vast experiences in the subject areas under discussion. The theme of the Conference “reinforcing governance, protecting tax base” resonated well with the current developments in the tax landscape and therefore elicited great interest and participation of those in attendance.

Corporate governance has lately come under close scrutiny following revelations of lack of accountability, misreporting, misrepresentation and outright malfeasance which played a major role in the global financial crisis. The spotlight is increasingly directed to the tax administrations where public trust (the key driver of tax compliance) is waning due to the integrity challenges. The Conference presented an opportunity for the tax administrator to explore critical areas in the tax policy design and administration that need to be focused on in a bid to reclaim and retain the confidence of their valued client- the taxpayers.

The Conference could not have come at a more fortuitous time. The United Nations Conference on financing of sustainable development goals (SDGs) that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July, 2015 identified domestic revenue mobilization as the panacea for achieving these goals, especially in developing economies. This no doubt put immense pressure on the tax administrations to enhance their collections, not only through measures such as widening the tax base, but also ensuring that the existing tax base is secured.

Furthermore, the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Report was launched in early November, 2015 and the Conference participants benefited from an early opportunity to discuss and interrogate some outcomes of that Report and add their voice to the proposed road map for implementation of some of the Action points.

Although the technical issues were very demanding, the delegates’ spirits were never, at any one time diminished, thanks to the hospitality and support extended by the Malaysian authorities- the Ministry of Finance, the Chief Minister of Melaka, the Chief Executive Officer of the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia together with the staff at Hasil- to whom we owe a very big THANK YOU.

Gerry Cook