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First in Francophone Africa: Morocco and Cameroon Launch Tax Cooperation Initiative

Yaounde (National Times) – Tax authorities from Morocco and Cameroon have launched a new Tax Inspectors without Borders (TWIB) initiative that will allow Moroccan tax officials to train their Cameroonian counterparts on how to trace and better tax multinational firms.

The initiative first reported by TWIB, was singed on the 5th of March in Yaounde. TWIB is a joint venture between OECD and United Nations Development Program to enable mostly developing countries to tackle rampant tax evasion by multinational companies.

Tax evasion, by multinational and, local companies is rampant in Cameroon. Due to loopholes in the country’s tax policies and corruption, multinational companies often avoid paying their fair share of taxes. This undermines economic and social development, as they reap the government coffers of funds to invest in social and economic projects.

According to information from the TWIB, the initiative between Cameroon and Morocco is the second requested by Cameroon following the completion in January 2019 of a highly successful bilateral programme with France, which has been running since October 2017.It is the first time in Francophone Africa where two African countries have agreed to cooperate on sharing skills and knowledge in tackling tax evasion.

Mr. Modeste Mopa (Director General for taxes of Cameroon), Ms. Samia Abdelghani (OECD Tax Advisor), Ms. Wiam El Kacimi (TIWB expert from Morocco) and Mr. Jean-Marc Niel (Secretary-General of CREDAF), participated in the official launch of the TIWB bilateral programme.

Mr. Mopa thanked the TIWB Secretariat and the Kingdom of Morocco for providing an expert for this new TIWB programme and highlighted the benefits Cameroon will gain from the programme in terms of additional tax revenue and tax audit capacity building.

The measure comes at a time where Cameroon is experiencing a surge in Moroccan investment. In 2018, the Moroccan group People’s Central Bank (BCP) bought 68 percent shares of Cameroon’s largest private Bank, BICEC, from the French banking group Banque populaire Caisse d’épargne (BPCE).

An official at Cameroon’s Ministry of Finance told National Times that the program will help the Ministry to increase government revenue and reduce tax burdens on small companies. According to the official before 2016, “a small number of taxpayers bore almost all the tax burden, because of the large informal sector and tax evasion my large foreign companies. The reforms undertaken since 2016 both in tax policy and in terms of capacity building of the Tax Administration permit to hope for a fair and equitable tax burden based on the ability of each taxpayer to pay”.

The official also said the government is taking serious measures to address corruption in taxation process. “More than 40 officials have gone to prison for collecting bribes and not taxing companies as the law requires,” he said.

The agreement between Cameroonian and Moroccan tax inspectors will contribute to the government’s effort to increase its revenue through taxes. It is not yet clear how this will affect Cameroon’s ability to tax Moroccan companies operating in Cameroon.

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