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Joining the Club: The United States Signs Up for Reciprocal Tax Cooperation

In a breakthrough which escaped almost everybody’s attention, a group of countries have agreed to share information with each other about their residents’ tax and financial information. The exchange will be automatic, electronic and multilateral, and includes countries which are responsible for more than 90% of global financial services exports. Agreement from the US is a major step, or will be if it is ratified and implemented; and the remaining step is to ensure developing countries are fully included.

Kudos to the Philippine Government for Its Foreign Aid Transparency Hub

On April 25, the Philippine government launched Version 2.0 of its Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH).   FAiTH records all foreign aid and assistance, in pledges, cash, and non-cash donations, given to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. The portal offers detailed information, by donor.  Information can be accessed online or downloaded for further analysis.  As of today, FAiTH indicates that the government has received $762 million in foreign assistance, of which $248 million is cash and $514 is in-kind assistance.  The total amount of cash received by the government, including from domestic sources, is $336 million.

Memo to Jim Kim: Please Follow Results, Not Money

One of the biggest hopes people expressed about Jim Kim’s nomination to become president of the World Bank was that he would bring a fresh perspective, focused on achieving results, rather than reinforce the institution’s bureaucratic machinery. Unfortunately, President Kim’s recent remarks at the Center for Foreign Relations suggest that bureaucratic inertia is winning.

World Bank’s Flagging Leadership on Contract Transparency

Over the last few years, the World Bank has put a lot of thought and resources behind making contracting more transparent and to build up the capacity of citizens to get what they are paying for through government procurement.  The bank has designed and financed innovative community-driven projects that publish contracts, it has backed programs like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative alongside Open Contracting, it has put together a powerful database of road costs based on World Bank contracts, and it has put out a lot more data on bank-financed contracts themselves.

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