Archive and Chronology of Finnish Foreign Policy

Speech by Minister Skinnari at the Tax Inspectors Without Borders Initiative event 28.9.2020

Speech by Minister Skinnari at the Tax Inspectors Without Borders Initiative event

Distinguished partners, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you are well and safe.

Thank you for joining us today, and again, special thanks to UNDP and OECD for this partnership that we in Finland are very proud of. Progressive taxation and tax-funded public services, social protection and infrastructure are fundamentally important building blocks of democratic, well-functioning and sustainable societies.

Since I addressed this meeting last year, you have worked hard at UNDP, the OECD and the wider UN-system to promote tax justice and domestic resource mobilization. Finland has also been active, and in June this year, we launched our new Taxation for Development Action Programme.

I am happy that we had Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, the EU-Commissioner for Global Partnerships, launching it with us. She is not only my close colleague and Finland’s former Minister of Finance, but also one of the driving forces in the EU-African Union partnership to curb illicit financial flows and enhance domestic taxation capacities in Africa.

Tax Inspectors Without Borders is one of Finland’s key partners in this work. We are supporting it through our funding partnership with the UNDP. We all realize that we can achieve much more by working in partnership both UNDP and the OECD than by working alone.

Going forward, we hope that this Tax Inspectors’ initiative can capitalize on the relative strengths of all partners. The fact that UNDP has a country office in every country of the Global South is definitely an asset. We also know that UNDP has been a leader in the UN-Family on two aspects that are critically important for success: One is Capacity Development and the other is South-South cooperation.

Finland supports a broad portfolio of interventions aimed at strengthening domestic taxation capacities in Africa, and at enhancing the Voice of Africa in global dialogues about tax policy. We recognize also the important groundwork that our other partners, including the African Tax Administration Forum and Tax Justice Network Africa, are doing.

The UN-FACTI panel launched their report last week. We greatly value the work that our Norwegian and Lithuanian neighbours have been doing regarding this – together with many other partners. We hope and trust that both the OECD and UNDP will be able to create synergies and play your optimal roles in promoting these same objectives.

We often say in Finland that we are a nation of “happy taxpayers”. This is quite exceptional, from a global perspective.

It is not a coincidence: it is a result of years of hard work in building a social contract for a government that not only taxes companies and individuals, but also delivers value for the taxes collected: public services, social protection and infrastructure that enhances productivity and social cohesion. In recent years, it is also a result of the investments that we have made into digital technology and customer service of the Finnish Tax Administration.

Finland is a credible player in spreading these good practices. We have developed strong know-how on how to combine data, economic automation and trust into a unified digital platform.

Therefore, please do not hesitate to call on Finland if you need partners – from the private or public sector – who are motivated and capable of innovating new digital and other solutions to enhance the domestic resource mobilization, trust and social contracts.

Thank you!