Over the past five years, the African Tax Administration Forum has worked hard at guaranteeing that it sets a significant benchmark for its members to help them achieve their own developmental goals in tax administration. It is therefore my singular pleasure to now present the next step in our evolution as a continental organisation, as contained in the ATAF Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020. At this stage of our existence, we have taken a bold approach at ensuring that our members benefit fully from the strategic objectives of the organisation. With a stable yet agile Secretariat, our aim is to deliver world-class technical training, coupled with tailor-made technical assistance and innovation in tax research that reflect African priorities and realities.
With evolution comes change, and the first noticeable change is that this Strategic Plan is a five-year outlook, as opposed to the two previous strategic documents respectively spanning three-year periods. Further, with the inroads we have made since our establishment, we are now able to inject greater focus into the organisation, as reflected in the four objectives – down from the seven objectives we had originally started out with. We are convinced that, with these four objectives to focus on over the next five years, African tax administrations will benefit considerably from the shorter response times to their direct needs, the greater focus placed on all the ATAF languages in the delivery of programmes, and an enhanced outlook at ensuring that African tax priorities become more integrated into the discussions on the global tax agenda.
With the organisation’s raison d'être foremost in mind, ATAF’s programmes will be fully geared toward improving the capacity of African tax administrations to achieve their revenue objectives, informing policy and legislation formulation, fostering transparency and accountability in tax matters, providing a mechanism to contribute to the international developments on tax matters, and developing sustainable partnerships in order to achieve these goals.
Recognising our members as our first priority, greater attention will be placed on enhancing their interaction with the Secretariat on various formal, informal and social platforms. Moreover, opportunities for project-based secondments to the Secretariat by member country officials, and for members to directly represent the organisation at regional and international meetings, will ensure a better understanding of African tax developments and challenges by the global tax community.
Noting that the recent global dialogue on development in Africa focuses significantly on mobilizing domestic resources and tax administration, it is important that building efficient and effective tax administrations also encompasses the education and services provided to taxpayers, as well as the manner in which taxes are collected, that foster a culture of compliance and participation in the enhancement of the state citizen relationship. I am encouraged by the great strides that have been already been made over the past five years of ATAF’s existence as we begin to see an increase in focus, coordination and responses from African countries on a variety of tax matters.
Moreover, it is vital that the African narrative on tax matters is articulated by Africans. So will also see the growth of both international and continental technical expertise within its Secretariat, thus ensuring that there is greater ownership of the organisation. In addition, the organisation will introduce a knowledge hub, the foundation for which has already been well established in the participation of ATAF in the tax-related UN Subcommittees, the OECD technical Working Parties, regional workshops of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the continuation of the African Tax Research Network.
There is no doubt that the next five years will pose challenges for the organisation and its members as the development of tools aimed at plugging the tax gaps and stemming the flows of illicit finances gathers pace. Nevertheless, we look forward to rising to these challenges in order to become the leading organisation on African tax matters, and by playing our part in enhancing economic development and improving the living standards of the people of Africa. So please join me on this exciting journey in executing our new five-year plan with distinction and success.