Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA), Finance Ministry and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Maldives have signed the country engagement plan for the Tax for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Program in Maldives – an initiative which aims to enhance the effectiveness of the Maldivian tax system and accelerate progress on achieving the SDGs.
The country engagement plan for the two-year program supported by Norway and Finland was signed Wednesday.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Hilde Berg-Hansen, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, stressed the importance of a strong and equitable taxation system to reduce vulnerability and dependence on external assistance.
“We are proud to see that Norwegian support to UNDP is benefitting Maldives in its quest to improve taxation systems and make resources available for achieving SDG targets. A strong and equitable taxation system is important to reduce vulnerability and dependence on external assistance,” she said.
In a statement announcing the program, UNDP Maldives noted taxation and fiscal policies are critical tools that the government can maneuverer to direct public finance into achieving the SDGs.
Beyond providing financing for new and more sustainable growth strategies, taxation is also a tool that can encourage behavioral changes, contributing to better outcomes in environment, health, gender and other aspects of the SDGs, said UNDP.
Maldivian Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer said the Tax for SDGs Program will enhance the Maldivian tax system and accelerate progress of attaining SDGs.
"Government revenue is allocated to finance SDGs, which includes increasing spending on health sector and the environment. The Tax for SDGs initiative will enhance the effectiveness of our tax system, further strengthen our fiscal policy and help accelerate the progress of attaining SDGs," he said.
UNDP’s Sustainable Finance Hub initiated the Tax for SDGs Program as part of a comprehensive package of tools and solutions for accelerating financing for the SDGs. The supports developing countries in increasing domestic resource mobilization through policy advisory, capacity building and technical advisory on strengthening tax administration.
The focus areas of the Tax for SDGs Program in Maldives - all of which have a strong gender focus as a cross-cutting theme are:
Maldivian Commissioner General of Taxation, Fathuhulla Jameel said the Tax for SDGs Program will provide solutions to modern-day challenges facing the Maldivian tax system.
“MIRA appreciates the continuous support provided by UNDP for institutional development and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP programs have significantly contributed to the capacity development of staff and assisted in leveraging innovative solutions in fulfilling strategic objectives of MIRA. We are very happy to launch Tax for SDGs Program and look forward to its successful implementation,” he said.
According to Enrico Gaveglia, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives, the Tax for SDGs Program will reinforce the existing support that the UNDP is providing for the Maldivian government to broaden the fiscal space and leverage innovative financing solutions through the Climate-themed Development Finance Analysis and the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF).
“Taxation when run in a fair, equitable and transparent manner, builds trust, strengthens citizen/state relationship, and grants service providers the social license to channel public finances and deliver those services most needed by the people,” he said.
At the ceremony, UNDP Resident Representative Gaveglia presented to Finance Minister Ameer and Commissioner General of Taxation Fathuhulla copies of UNDP Maldives’ ‘Island Life’ magazine and ‘The Great Upheaval: Resetting Development Policy and Institutions for the Decade of Action in Asia and the Pacific’ by Swarnim Waglé, Chief Economic Advisor at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and Kanni Wignaraja, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific - which reimagines social and economic pathways to revamp production modes and networks to rekindle sustainable growth in the region.