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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The two-day G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting kicked off in Riyadh on Saturday with taxation dominating the agenda.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said this year would represent a key test for tax transparency worldwide.
“It gives us the opportunity to assess what we have achieved collectively in the area of tax transparency and discuss possible ways to encourage further progress, and provides a platform to discuss the way forward to address the tax challenges arising from the digitization of the economy,” he said.
The minister said that G20 states and the OECD had already achieved major successes in tackling tax evasion. “Today, members of the G20/OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes work together to implement the internationally agreed standards on tax transparency,” said Al-Jadaan. “These standards balance the need to access information for tax purposes and the need to protect taxpayers’ confidentiality.”
He said that more than 6,100 bilateral exchange agreements had been signed and that tax-authorities worldwide were now collecting tax revenues utilizing the automatic exchange of information mechanism.
“Information on 50 million financial accounts was exchanged by the end of 2019 for a total value of about €5 trillion ($5,4 trillion), and almost €100 billion in additional tax revenues have been identified, thanks to voluntary compliance mechanisms and investigations,” he said.
Dr. Ahmed Alkholifey, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) said that the global economy had faced headwinds caused by geopolitical uncertainties and social unrest in some parts of the world.
But he said the good news was that the financial sector, and notably the banking sector, has continued to strengthen in both advanced and emerging economies.
The governor also said he expected to see an improvement in the Saudi economy this year.
“As an open economy, Saudi Arabia, just as other countries in the region, is under the influence of these global developments. What I can say, in a nutshell, is that GDP growth in Saudi Arabia is projected to see an upturn in 2020.”
Ministers and central bank governors from the G20 countries and guest nations, as well as heads of international and regional organizations are attending the gathering in Saudi Arabia, the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency.
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