CSOs Tell G20 Nations to Implement Transparency

24 September 2015

Civil society organizations included various transparency recommendations for the G20 countries to implement.

The proposals came in a communiqué issued at the C20 Summit 2015 held in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 15 and 16.

The C20 proposed more contract transparency, plus more transparency about corporate ownership and taxation.

Transparency is necessary to fight corruption, the C20 stressed, saying, “Secrecy in governance systems is used to divert public funds through money laundering, illegal tax evasion and embezzlement.”

“A regulatory environment with high standards of transparency and accountability in public and private sectors, including a well-regulated banking sector, forms the best base for an accountable governance framework and responsible behaviour by all actors.”

Contracting Transparency

On contracting, the C20 called on G20 leaders to: “Ensure transparency in procurement processes through disclosure of awarded contracts, including any annexes, schedules or reference documents, and information on the execution, performance, and completion of the contract in open data formats in a timely and routine manner as proposed by the Open Contracting Initiative.”

The C20 said the G20 “should also ensure independent monitoring by non-governmental actors of all stages of the procurement cycle including e-participation.” Countries also should: “Ensure the legal right to access public information and release all key datasets crucial in tackling corruption in open data formats. This includes but is not limited to data for government budgets, government procurement, extractives payments, construction and infrastructure projects, regulatory impact assessments and all court decisions as granted, as well as allowing identification of individuals, companies and countries by name.”

The communiqué also called for the G20 to “Implement the Los Cabos High Level Principles on Asset Disclosure by Public Officials. Make National Income and Asset Disclosure (IAD) registries publicly available and harmonised across G20 countries.” Said the G20 should “strictly limit domestic immunities for public officials and ensure transparent and effective procedures for suspension of immunities.”

The G20 should “publish a plan of action on the implementation of the Beneficial Ownership Transparency Principles, reporting on progress at regular intervals.” The plan should “make the Beneficial Ownership registry system public and extend it to all jurisdictions worldwide, ensuring access at least by all authorities to this information by the establishment of a central (unified) registry.”

Beneficial Ownership Recommendation

Taxation was a key topic of the communiqué, with a variety of recommendations.

Regarding taxation-related transparency, the G20 was urged to commit to “a multilateral mechanism for automatic exchange of information with all willing countries, including Beneficial Ownership information.” The communiqué says there should be a transitional mechanism to allow developing countries to benefit from receiving information while adapting to the requirements to send information.”

The G20 should “collect and publish annually statistics on the aggregate sums passing through their financial systems, broken down by country of residence of the account holder and of controlling persons,” the C20 said. It also proposed to “allow direct filing of Country-by-Country reports with all tax authorities where the multi-national enterprise (MNE) has a taxable presence and publishing of these reports.”

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In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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