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Tax and customs officials from Central and Southern Africa recently met at an inter-regional seminar in Mauritius to discuss the importance of collaboration in tackling tax fraud.
The seminar was organized by the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centers (AFRITACs) Central and South in collaboration with the Africa Training Institute. The event, which took place between September 28 and October 2, brought together senior officials and experts in tax and customs from Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo.
Sudhamo Lal, Director General of the Mauritius Revenue Authority, noted that "the choice of the operational model for concerted action between customs and tax agencies to fight fraud is immaterial. What is critical is to ensure that there is a coherent strategy involving agencies moving in the same direction towards a common goal with dedicated and competent staff."
Olivier Benon, Director/Coordinator of AFRITAC Central, pointed out that the theme of the seminar meets one of the strategic objectives of the Center which is "improving the administration of VAT and strengthening the management and fiscal control of the natural resources sectors."
The persistence, or even the increase, of VAT fraud suggests the need for a joint approach from the tax and customs administrations in charge of VAT collection throughout the region. Sharing intelligence, cooperation, and integrating certain responsibilities of these two agencies is crucial for combating VAT fraud and improving their performance, the IMF said.
Participants reaffirmed the need for better collaboration, with the view to understanding fraud risks and employing an appropriate mix of both preventive measures and sanctions. They also developed practical tools adapted to the situation of each country with regard to trade data, fraud risk management, and VAT control.
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