"The 1% is thriving while the rest of us are losing out [...]. Extreme inequality is making our societies unliveable while the rich can shield themselves."
With these words Hon. Irene Ovonji-Odida opened the ATI General Assembly 2023. Her keynote address set the tone for the meeting, underscoring the need for fair, effective, and transparent tax systems.
The General Assembly also highlighted the ATI’s unique character, convening partner countries, development partners, and supporting organisations on an equal footing. Since its establishment in 2015, the ATI has made important contributions to increasing financing for development through donor coordination, peer learning, agenda setting, and political commitment. Therefore, the 2023 ATI General Assembly provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on the progress made, but also on the lessons learnt and the challenges that are still lying ahead in achieving the ATI Declaration 2025 vision of “tax systems that work for people and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
Jutta Urpilainen, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, reiterated the European Union’s support of ATI’s work in her speech:
“Domestic Resource Mobilisation (DRM) has emerged as an important tool for promoting economic growth and development and achieving debt sustainability. So today, let me reiterate the EU’s support for the Addis Tax Initiative’s work. We stand fully behind the Addis Tax Initiative Declaration 2025, which shines a light on fair tax systems and the fight against Illicit Financial Flows.”
Several representatives of ATI partner countries, development partners and international organisations presented high-level statements supporting the ATI’s four commitments. This was also underlined by Denivel Germain, Director General of Taxes of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Madagascar:
“The sustainable development should be rhyming with the fair development in the sense that the globalisation of the current economy is not allowing us to progress alone. The developing countries and the developed countries are interdependent since, more than ever, the commercial and economic exchanges between them keep increasing in terms of quantity and volume. It is here that the concept of fairness makes sense. In these incessant transactions, neither the transmitter nor the receiver should be wronged.”
As a co-author of the ATI Declaration 2025, Madagascar was also urging the international community to intensify its support to the developing countries in their efforts to strengthen the mobilisation of domestic revenues.
During the General Assembly, the 2020 ATI Monitoring Report was presented, showcasing the progress made by ATI partner countries and development partners towards fulfilling the four commitments of the ATI Declaration 2025. The report revealed that ATI partner countries achieved an average tax-to-GDP ratio of 14.20% in 2020, marking the end of a sustained increase in tax-to-GDP ratios between 2016 and 2019. ATI development partners increased their official development assistance (ODA) for domestic resource mobilisation (DRM) by 58.8% between 2015 and 2020. The report highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on partner countries’ economies and, subsequently, the challenging trade-offs faced by development partners in the allocation of ODA.
Strengthening the momentum behind the ATI’s efforts to finance the SDGs through DRM, the 2023 General Assembly solidified members’ commitment to each of the four ATI Declaration 2025 commitments:
- ATI partner countries commit to enhance DRM on the basis of equitable tax policies as well as efficient, effective and transparent revenue administrations. ATI development partners commit to support such reforms.
- ATI development partners collectively commit to maintain or surpass the 2020 global target level (USD 441.1 million) of DRM cooperation for country-owned tax reforms.
- ATI members commit to apply coherent and coordinated policies that foster DRM and combat tax-related illicit financial flows (IFFs).
- ATI members commit to enhance space and capacity for accountability stakeholders in partner countries to engage in tax and revenue matters.
During interactive break-out sessions, the Consultative Groups 1 to 4 within the ATI’s organisational structure discussed the progress made, along with areas of priority and activities to be carried out until 2025. In addition, panel discussions promoted an exchange of diverse perspectives on international taxation and the role of multilateralism and inclusiveness in international tax agreements. The members reflected on an agenda towards equitable DRM. They also discussed building an international financial architecture that fosters sustainable development and leaves no one behind.
As the ATI co-chairs pointed out in the General Assembly’s closing session, multidimensional crises pose threats to the realisation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. Therefore, international cooperation and collective action are crucial to address these challenges and mitigate their social, political, and economic repercussions. The fruitful discussions held in each session – along with the insightful country experiences shared in the various sessions – will undoubtedly enhance the ATI’s efforts in promoting fair and effective domestic resource mobilisation in partner countries.
About the Addis Tax Initiative (ATI)
The ATI is a multi-stakeholder partnership that was initiated in 2015 during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to support the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on Financing for Development. Today, the ATI brings together more than 70 developing countries (partner countries), providers of development cooperation (development partners) and supporting organisations that believe that tax systems need to work for people and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the United Nations’ blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.