The UN has appointed George Omondi Obell to the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax matters (ECOSOC), becoming the first Kenyan to hold such a position.
Mr Obell, a chief manager at Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) international tax office, joins 24 other members from various countries across the world, who were appointed by the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres last month.
The 25-member team will serve for a period of four years.
The new membership of ECOSOC, includes individuals from India, Japan, China, Brazil, Singapore, Russia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Colombia, Poland, Vietnam, Thailand, Jamaica, Argentina, Switzerland, Ecuador and Sweden.
Africa is represented by Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Djibouti and Zambia.
Out of the 25 members, 23 of them work currently for their government in tax positions.
However, the members will act in their personal capacity when engaging in UN tax committee work.
Mr Guterres said appointees were selected from a pool of 60 nominees to reflect equitable geographical distribution and different tax systems.
“The members are to be drawn from the fields of tax policy and tax administration and selected to reflect an adequate equitable geographical distribution, representing different tax systems,” said Mr Guterres in a note verbale.
African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) applauded the appointment of the six Africans to the committee.
“The experience and knowledge these experts will bring to the committee’s work will not only greatly benefit the UN but also their own countries and Africa, as a whole as it will ensure that the UN’s work reflects both the opportunities and challenges faced by African countries in improving domestic resource mobilisation,” said ATAF in a statement posted on its website.
ECOSOC is responsible for updating important UN international tax documents, which form the basis of many countries tax laws and tax treaty negotiations.
The documents include the UNs model double taxation convention between developed and developing countries, the practical manual on transfer pricing for developing countries and the manual for the negotiation of bilateral tax treaties between developed and developing countries.
ECOSOC is one of the six main organs of the global organisation established by the UN Charter in 1946.
It is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as for implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.