Review of “Ict As A Strategic Tool To Leapfrog The Efficiency Of Tax Administrations” by Jorge Cosulich Ayala

  • I greatly appreciate the honor and privilege given me to read and comment on this book, whose excellent design and contents, not only ensure the objective of making it a point of reference, a true “flagship”, as it endeavors to be, in the use of modern ICT technologies for strengthening the Tax Administrations. Likewise, because, it is an excellent knowledge base to continue researching the main themes discussed in the different chapters with the support of an extensive bibliography which, among other activities, will allow for training tax administrators of the different functional and support areas, as well as the staff that manages the ICT technology, thereby strengthening the communication bridge between ICT technologies   and the tax management processes.

  • I am very pleased with the rigorous treatment of both, tax and specific ICT issues, which have been, in general, tangentially treated in other CIAT publications and as part of the tax systems and processes. Along these lines, reading the ICT chapters will be very interesting not only for specialized technicians but also for tax managers who, without being specialists, must give their opinions and make strategic decisions about their acquisition and implementation.

  • In these brief remarks, without endeavoring to justify the importance of ICT in efficient tax management, since the book amply does so, I would rather like to mention some of the initiatives that have driven CIAT, since its establishment up to our days, to be the flagship in the identification, dissemination and application of modern leading-edge technology in the member countries of America, Europe and Africa.

  • These initiatives necessarily lead me to the early years of CIAT’s establishment, when I was looking for the skyline to follow. Thus, the first thing I identify, in addition to its very well-designed bylaws, which have undergone few substantive changes, is the Cooperation Agreement with Germany. For 20 years, 1977 to 1997, it supported the strengthening of the Executive Secretary and member countries in the use of data processing technology (DPT) with funds and consultants from Germany and member countries. The organization, planning, professionalism and commitment which the German colleagues transmitted to us are currently part of the “know-how” and way of working at the CIAT Executive Secretariat.

  • Another key factor was the design and approval of CIAT’s 1983-1986 First Strategic Plan, with the technological support of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America. According to the methodology applied, it is updated every three years. Through the plan’s update all members may identify the most important challenges being faced by the Tax Administrations, as well as the technologies that may positively or negatively (tax evasion) impact the operations. Once the challenges have been identified, the strategic plan guides the use of all the tools available, such as assemblies, technical conferences, seminars, working groups, courses, manuals, technical advisory services, etc., to fully address these problems with the positive products  and results that we all know.

  • Before concluding these comments, I would to like to refer, by way of example, to a specific case of the technological support given by CIAT to its member countries. In the 80s, the problem identified in the strategic plan was the need to integrate such processes as the taxpayer master file (TMF), returns and payment of taxes in the tax current account to support the tax control processes. This matter was considered in the first CIAT Tax Administration Manual which used as reference the Canadian Revenue Agency Manual. The Manual was reviewed and discussed in seminars and applied in the emblematic TMF / CA Regional Project financed by the IDB, which included Central American countries, Panama and the Dominican Republic. (1983-1987). Following its conclusion, this project was considered very successful by the IDB and the participating member countries.

  • One of the consequences of the TMF / CA project, among many others, was the fact that it was the master key that opened an important IDB financing window for strengthening and modernizing the financial management of all LAC countries, which has been maintained up till now. It was also another key factor in the technological leap of all LAC countries and the increase of the tax burden, from 15.3% in 1990 to 22.8% in 2017.

  • Likewise, the TMF / CA project served as a reference model for the establishment of integrated large taxpayer management systems. The emblematic case was that of Uruguay, wherein an integrated large taxpayer management system was successfully implemented through the application of the latest ICT technology and the support from the IDB and IMF. The model was replicated in almost all the LAC countries and even in Europe. There are many other emblematic cases of CIAT’s technological support to the Tax Administrations of its member countries that could be discussed and which may be found in CIAT’s knowledge base.

  • Lastly, to conclude these comments, I would like to recommend to all our tax administration colleagues from the CIAT countries to read all the chapters that may be of interest to them in this magnificent book. I am sure they will experience the same emotion I felt on being carried away by the great waves of progress and ICT innovation, thereby renewing and updating my knowledge.

  • I would also like to express my congratulations for the initiative of writing this outstanding book in the person of Mr. Márcio Verdi, CIAT Executive Secretary, Mr. Raúl Zambrano, ICT Director of CIAT, the colleagues who showed such great expertise in the drafting of the different chapters of this book, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its brilliant initiative to support the writing of this book, as well as for its vision of cooperating with CIAT.

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Disclaimer. Readers are informed that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organization, committee or other group the author might be associated with, nor to the Executive Secretariat of CIAT. The author is also responsible for the precision and accuracy of data and sources.

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