Strong financial frameworks and international co-operation will be key to building back better post COVID-19
The "Puente las Américas" bridge spans the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. Banner image: Shutterstock/Cris Young
This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders — from around the world and all parts of society — address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
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It has now been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And like every country, Panama has had to face severe health and economic headwinds. Today, we are preparing ourselves to face whatever comes next.
With vaccination campaigns being rolled out across the world, we have begun examining what a smart, efficient economic recovery could entail, as well as exploring what needs to be done to ensure that we build back better once the health crisis comes to an end. Now is also the time to reflect on how the pandemic has changed many sectors, and to question the efficiency of some of the measures implemented over these past months.
Read the report "Scaling up policies that connect people with jobs in the recovery from COVID-19" and visit the OECD's COVID-19 Hub to browse hundreds of policy responses
In Panama, we have implemented a number of innovative solutions to financially support businesses that have struggled during the crisis. We have also worked to promote growth across critical sectors like the financial industry, which took it upon itself to turn the challenge of COVID-19 into an opportunity to become more resilient, digitised and efficient. As we look to build back better, we should ask ourselves what comes next—especially for the financial sector. How can we ensure that we seize this momentum to strengthen an industry that still faces many challenges?
In our view, international co-operation must lead the way. Now is the right moment to think collectively about how we can fight common challenges in the financial industry. Thankfully, many governments and international organisations, such as the OECD, have seized the initiative to develop and implement frameworks designed to make sure that we all restart from a better place post-pandemic.
The OECD’s report on Ending the Shell Game: Cracking down on the Professionals who enable Tax and White Collar Crimes is an excellent example of this. It sets out clear strategies and actions for countries to undertake to tackle professional intermediaries who enable tax evasion and other financial crimes on behalf of clients. As Europol estimates that the pandemic is likely to have created new opportunities for financial crime, this is a very timely and welcome initiative.
In Panama’s case, the report also confirmed that the national measures we have been implementing are likely to prove effective in exposing professional intermediaries who engineer complex legal and financial tax evasion structures. Some of the measures we have implemented so far include developing risk indicators for identifying professional enablers—drawing on a wide range of available data sources—and creating a Registry System for Beneficial Owners of Legal Entities, which facilitates access to information about beneficial owners of legal entities collected by attorneys who provide resident agent services.
Read the OECD's report "Ending the Shell Game: Cracking down on the Professionals who enable Tax and White Collar Crimes" and find out more about the importance of concerted domestic and international action in clamping down on the enablers of crime
As a country that has suffered from financial scandals that involved many other countries and constituencies, the issue of financial sector transparency and co-operation is a matter close to Panama’s heart. This is why the work done by the OECD and others to increase transparency within the banking and financial system is so important. Only by working together can we fight tax evasion and money laundering, and we welcome further global initiatives to ensure that the international community continues to pursue common goals with aligned strategies.
This is also the reason why we believe that international co-operation should foster a rising tide that lifts all boats in unison. Instead of targeting and sanctioning those without the resources and expertise to implement demanding reforms on their own, we should rely on more constructive frameworks that favour open collaboration instead of targeted criticism. As COVID-19 hits national economies around the world, we all agree that we can and must build back a better financial industry and—by working together at the global level within organisations like the OECD—we strongly believe that better frameworks can be developed which empower everyone to take the necessary steps.
|Tackling COVID-19||Tax||International Co-operation|
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