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Macau must do more on tax evasion: EU

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image Maria Castillo Fernandez, the head of European Union (EU) office in Hong Kong and Macau

The head of European Union (EU) office in Hong Kong and Macau, Maria Castillo Fernandez, urged the territory to make a bigger effort to prevent tax evasion.
The SAR Government has so far concluded Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) or Double Taxation Conventions with 14 different countries or regions. The last one was signed with India last week.
In an interview with Portuguese-language newspaper Ponto Final, Fernandez said: “We always ask Macau to do more. What we ask Macau is that the exchange of information is done automatically and not case by case. That’s what is happening now according to the current standards.”
Macau is in line with the “minimum standards” of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “However, in Europe we are going further, with an automatically mechanism,” she stressed, adding that the EU is asking that to all its partners, including the MSAR.
Currently, if a country wants to exchange tax information with Macau, it has to submit a request. “At another level things are done automatically, without waiting for a request,” she explained.
Fernandez recalled that Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for taxation, customs, anti-fraud and audit, visited Macau last year. “At that time, we welcomed the fact that legislation was changed, but we noted that we would like Macau to do more,” she added.
Eight of those information exchange agreements were ratified in 2011, involving Australia, Denmark – including the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland – Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.
The treaties provide authorities on both sides with access to information about the capital dispositions and incomes of citizens with tax arrears and could reveal assets and earnings not declared at home.
The EU representative said Macau should not fear the European downturn. Fernandez said that even though the European crisis has worldwide effects, the local economy has registered a remarkable growth.
“Trade [between Macau and EU] has increased and European products continue to be acquired. At least, in a certain way, Macau helps to alleviate problems in Europe,” she said.
Fernandez also announced that a new academic programme would be launched this summer. Its goal is to “promote more exchange in education and culture” and its targets the youth, so “they can have a wider knowledge and conscience about Europe, so we can be more visible in Macau” and vice-versa.

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