Today wraps up the Davos week for me, and I feel I am leaving with some new ideas and insights as to how we get towards a more cohesive and sustainable future.
Yesterday saw a panel in the convention center on the digital tax issue with agreement the OECD process must find a multilateral solution this year and optimism from Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, that this will be achieved. Some of the incorrect or misleading facts that I mentioned in my previous blog post made an appearance in the session, and the issues of corporate tax avoidance and tax evasion got somewhat conflated. As I have written about this topic before, these are two different issues which have different solutions. The OECD can rightly be proud of what they have achieved in both areas by different means.
Meanwhile, I managed to catch up with Femke Groothuis from Ex’Tax and enjoyed further conversations with her and with my colleague, Mike Hayes, who works on sustainability, on how tax policy can contribute to sustainability. My thinking on this has definitely progressed throughout this week, and Mike and I also had some ideas around green financing. I think (hope?) that this is going to be the next big thing in the tax world, and I look forward to thinking and writing more on this topic in the future.
I have spotted all sorts of different people in Davos (currently sitting next to a historian I very much admire). This is a diverse crowd, though, and just as in any gathering of this kind, the hope is that people are listening REALLY hard to different points of view. The world’s problems, including its tax issues, are very complex, and it is unlikely that any of us have all of the answers. In reaching towards a cohesive and sustainable world, one source of optimism is the speed at which technology is developing to address some of the issues. The socio-economic issues may be harder to address. But there is promise in the fact that we continue to come together.