06 May 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
Borja Jiménez Muñoz, Prosecutor of the International Cooperation Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office writes this opinion article in which he looks into the work of the Prosecutor’s Office and its participation and involvement in cooperation projects for the improvement of judicial systems worldwide.
The FIIAPP slogan “from the public to the public” is reassuring. It transmits a collective objective of institutional collaboration independent of specific interests, and makes us feel that what we do together is positive and can have an effective impact on the improvement of judicial systems in different parts of the world, because we are doing it in the public sector. I know this from my own experience as a former resident adviser on a twinning project in Serbia, through which I got to know the FIIAPP, make wonderful friends and connect with the view of the Spanish Prosecutor as a specialised professional who can export the best image of Spain.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor is well established in such tasks of institutional cooperation and the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office has been cooperating with the FIIAPP since the latter was created in 1998 and has been growing, managed through the International Cooperation Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office (UCIF). I can affirm that our relationship is permanent, complex and positive and, of course, public.
It is permanent because, despite the fact that we have a small staff, made up of only 2,571 prosecutors – not at all comparable with the number of other groups in the field of Justice such as judges, lawyers from the Justice Administration or policemen, among others – and, of them, no more than 30-40 participate in international activities, our presence in Justice and Interior projects is very significant: not only do we currently have four Prosecutors abroad and FIIAPP staff coordinating twinning, delegated cooperation or similar projects, but our participation in short-term missions is also permanent. For example, last year in 2020, despite the pandemic, around 30 Spanish prosecutors participated in as many FIIAPP missions, not forgetting their participation in other institutions, such as AECID, in activities derived from the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors (AIAMP) of which the UCIF is general secretary and EU projects such as EUROMED, among others. This implies commitment.
It is complex. Those of us who are involved in the management have different institutional profiles and participate in different corporate cultures. The Prosecutor’s Office does not have the objective of cooperating abroad, our function is to promote the action of Justice and its original vision had nothing to do with the current challenges abroad. Today we have a Prosecutor of the highest professional category (Chief Prosecutor) in charge of international cooperation, who is convinced of the importance of such technical cooperation. And also a Unit of the Attorney General dedicated to this, which includes criminal judicial cooperation and institutional cooperation with third countries, which is an achievement that stems from a personal commitment of a few prosecutors who believed in what today seems to be a obvious. This structure’s dialogue with the FIIAPP generates complexity, in aspects such as the design of activities, human resources issues, institutional relations… Complexity causes difficulties, but the key is understanding, which exists despite the limited human resources that the UCIF has to carry out its work.
It is positive. FIIAPP has made the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office grow and given it projection and has enabled it to expand worldwide the knowledge and experienceof an institution that offers specialisation as one of its principal assets, enabling us to create and strengthen sister Prosecutor’s offices and other institutions, through twinning and other projects. Without this list being exhaustive, we have been right at the forefront in Slovakia, Poland, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Peru and, now again, in Albania, Morocco, Colombia, not forgetting our permanent participation in missions in Latin America, East Africa, Mozambique… In this way, our ideas have borne fruit. I know what I’m saying. We believe that FIIAPP has also benefited from this impact.
It is public. The slogan is a permanent reminder of an essential factor: FIIAPP is the vehicle for Spanish cooperation and the Prosecutor’s Office as a public institution carries out its foreign mission under the cover of that umbrella. Spanish Prosecutors do not participate in missions managed by private consultancies, except for justifiable exceptions, on the understanding that public servants cannot compete with public institutions by providing services to companies that compete for the same project. From the public to the public means this and we are proud to defend it.
What do we expect for the future? To maintain the intensity of our cooperation and to highlight the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office as an institution capable of demonstrating the best of Spain abroad. To that end, we need FIIAPP. But we also need to become more visible and move towards a deeper relationship. We have shared experiences that tell us that projects are only successful if they are planned well, if their beneficiaries are identified, if the experts are selected and properly looked after, if the FIIAPP team is qualified and flexible and, therefore, it is necessary to establish new relationship formulas.
FIIAPP and us, us and FIIAPP. A complex, necessary, useful framework that gives us wings. Long may it last.
Borja Jiménez Muñoz. Prosecutor of the International Cooperation Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office
11 March 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
David R. Seoane, a member of the Knowledge Management area, explains that FIIAPP does important work on global knowledge management as through its work to promote learning by administration bodies and support public policies that benefit people.
FIIAPP’s raison d’être as an institution is to promote learning between counterpart public administration bodies from different countries through the exchange and transfer of knowledge. The key raw material with which we work is therefore knowledge. We are a knowledge organisation.
Over the last few years, FIIAPP has made a firm commitment to ensure progress in the implementation of knowledge management as one of our cross-cutting priorities that allow us to grow as an organisation. This decision has led us to take important steps in the way we work that have allowed us to nurture our strategic planning and management, establishing synergies between the programming, monitoring and evaluation of public technical cooperation projects and other programmes in which we work. Throughout this ongoing process, we have always been certain that our roadmap toward a better FIIAPP inevitably involves the incorporating of innovation, continuous learning and good practices within our interventions.
We therefore classify the types of knowledge with which we work within the Foundation and that are indispensable to us. These are: strategic knowledge, methodological knowledge and procedural knowledge. This system allows us to define and organise knowledge that we consider critical to the development of the organisation’s functions and the achievement of its objectives.
Having useful knowledge at these three levels is key for our projects to translate into development results. In order to make better-informed decisions on a strategic level, we need to know the priorities of the international agenda, what kind of training is available to Spanish and European Public Administration bodies and what our partner countries need. At the methodological level, we have to use methodologies that ensure a horizontal, innovative transfer of knowledge that covers the real needs of our counterparts. Finally, on a procedural level, we follow solid and rigorous procedures that allow us to carry out economic, legal, logistical management etc. that meets the highest possible quality standards. In addition to effort and perseverance, we only need one thing for all this: knowledge.
On an ongoing basis, FIIAPP develops mechanisms and tools (guides, protocols, manuals, explanatory videos, information sessions, pilot exercises etc.) that allow us to capture, process and disseminate these types of knowledge, allowing us to progress efficiently and effectively. These three phases – capture, process and disseminate – make up the knowledge management cycle that the Foundation has adopted and that we strive daily to consolidate as the true culture of our collective work.
At FIIAPP, we believe that organisations learn, which is why we invest significant efforts and resources to improve our capacities to manage our knowledge better every day. This is the only way to live up to our essence and our true mission as an organisation.
David R. Seoane, Communication and Knowledge Management Technician at FIIAPP
08 October 2020
We interviewed Manuel Tuero Secades, director of the Official State Gazette State Agency, for him to explain his participation in the modernisation of the Official Gazette of Cuba, within the framework of the European Union-Cuba II Exchange of Experiences project.
The European Union-Cuba II Exchange of Experiences project accompanies the Cuban government in the implementation of its socioeconomic policy through exchanging knowledge, experiences and best practice with other administrations. One of the actions in which the project has participated is the modernisation of the Official Gazette of Cuba. With this interview we will delve into what the BOE is and what the exchange of experiences and collaboration between both organisations has been like.
First of all, we would like to put all this into context. What is the Spanish BOE and what are its functions?
To understand the current reality of the Official State Gazette (BOE) it is necessary to go back to its origin. The Spanish publication has 360 years of history, and in order to put its essence in context we need to consider that the term “gazette” in English is comparable to the old Spanish expression “gaceta”.
The BOE is made up of a group of people who edit the official journal of Spain. This journal has an effect which is, let’s say, “miraculous”, since everything of a regulatory or dispositional character that is published in the journal has legal force. In other words, laws come into force and administrative acts become mandatory for all citizens.
Therefore, the existence or knowledge of legal standards today is insufficient for legal operators, and also for citizens. From the database of consolidated law, we generate other personalised products, because our citizens are not an abstract concept, our citizens have specific, personal, professional interests etc. And, therefore, we have grouped legal regulations together in both digital and paper formats. Especially in the digital format, which is currently more relevant when grouped by sector of the legal system, thinking about specific groups of citizens, for example, librarians, archivists, prosecutors, coroners, notaries, wine producers, beer producers, cider manufacturers, berry producers etc.
But we can also use other groupings, such as operations, entities or financial markets that are extremely current. It is very important that Spanish legislation is known, for example, by the operator that is based today on British soil.
Thus, the main task of the Official State Gazette State Agency is the miracle of enforcing regulations and the obligation of spreading knowledge of Spanish law.
In recent years, the BOE has promoted approachability and accessibility by citizens, turning the digital version into a glossary that allows citizens to get plenty of mileage out of it. What has this path been like?
The citizen is not an abstract concept. Citizens were born somewhere, they live somewhere, they have certain studies, they want professional advancement and they need to know about scholarships and exams. Information is also published regarding contracts, which is essential for companies that are looking to participate in a public tender or a grant.
Therefore, it is necessary to fully personalise the content of the journal, in such a way that people may be alerted to what is happening in their town or where they live. They may also be alerted to professional interests that may be affected by an administrative decision or by a regulation. Perhaps that is the success of our professional work, having known how to identify that the recipient is not an idealised entity, but a person with specific interests.
Could you tell us how the collaboration between the BOE and the Cuban administration in the European Union-Cuba II Exchange of Experiences Project came about and what its main objectives are?
The BOE is very grateful to FIIAPP because it has made personal and material resources available to the Agency that allow it to establish collaborative ties with countries that are extremely complementary to Spain, and where both Spanish citizens and Spanish companies have many interests.
One of these is the project for collaboration between Cuba and Spain. This project aims, first of all, to facilitate edition of the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba in a digital format.
Spain is a particularly advanced country when it comes to regulatory publishing; perhaps it can be said, without excessive exaggeration, that we have one of the most advanced legal information systems in the world. In other countries, even in neighbouring countries, legal information systems are still published on paper and not digitally. Our official publication has the advantage of being free, of having full legal value and also of being usable as a database, which facilitates access to current legal knowledge without much difficulty.
The idea is to make possible a digital edition of the Cuban gazette with full legal validity, with a digital signature and accessible on the internet from all over the world, not only from within the island, but with value towards the international community with full legal effect.
That is one of the objectives we can offer the Republic of Cuba.
This is a foundation upon which to build other elements of interest brick by brick. From the publication of the official journal, we would be able to generate a database in which current Cuban law is also accessible to foreign operators, but especially to Cuban citizens who want to know the legal reality of their country.
From the Spanish experience, what are the main challenges you face in order to digitalise and disseminate this Cuban journal on the internet? What phases do you think you should implement to make it happen?
The Cuban legal information system is a system with its own internal logic. For example, the paper-based publication groups together the subjects by sector at the time of publication. It does not obey a logic that is either inadequate or incorrect. The legal announcement system of the Republic of Cuba is sufficiently coherent from the conceptual point of view.
We can provide technological tools or share experiences to facilitate the online publication of this content that is already correctly ordered.
This exchange of experiences is enriching not only for Cuba, but also for Spain. This quality of the Cuban Official Gazette, of coherent and materially ordered organisation of the subjects at the time of their publication on paper is a vision, that is, it presents an advance that Spain could also take in order to organise, for example, its regulatory action programme.
Therefore, the collaboration programme with the Republic of Cuba is a mutually enriching programme. We cannot think of it as a unilateral relationship, but rather that as a bilateral relationship that enriches both parties.
What has been the contribution of your cooperation, at a technological level, towards the Cuban Administration?
FIIAPP and the Ministry of the Presidency have achieved, through negotiations with the European Union, that several million euros will be contributed to a collaboration project that has as a result, not only the area of regulatory advertising, but other areas such as regulatory quality and the improvement of civil or commercial records. It is within this project in general that the project of digitalisation of the official gazette is framed.
Could you tell us about the importance of the human factor, of the people who collaborate with the administration? Is there any interesting expertise in Spain that can be transferred and leveraged in this programme?
For us, the Cuban project is very easy for several reasons. First of all, for an emotional reason. When we Spaniards go to Cuba, we do not feel like we have left Spain: the reality, buildings, history, everything makes us feel part of the place. Spaniards are treated with great affection and it feels as if we were working in our own administration.
It seems that working for the Official Gazette of Cuba is like working under the same conditions as for the Spanish Official Gazette. On the one hand, there is this advantage of, let’s call it, “mutual affection”, while on the other hand, there is also a high level of expert knowledge on the part of Cuban officials of the reality towards which they want to advance technologically. Therefore, we do not speak a different technological language and we experience similar emotional realities, which makes working for Cuba very similar to working for Spain.
On a personal level, what would you highlight about the experience of having the opportunity to direct this programme?
The collaboration of the BOE with the different gazettes in the Americas is taking place in a space of associative collaboration through the network of Latin American official gazettes. Within this collaborative space, Spain has always had a personal and especially intense relationship with Cuban public managers, in part due to our family origins. My own family origins are Cuban, and there is always a close and affectionate relationship that makes it easier to find technological solutions, because where affection abounds, problems or obstacles are overcome.
After the digitalisation of Cuba’s Gazette, it is planned to proceed to share all this legal information and knowledge with other countries in Latin America and Spain. Could you explain to us what this process will consist of?
The process of integrating the laws of the different countries means leaving behind a scheme that is especially rigid, which is the one we have after 500 years of printing. Text that is written on a page is rigid, in its lines, paragraphs, pages etc.
When that content is produced in a completely digital space it becomes absolutely liquid, therefore, the hierarchies that exist for the analogue world do not exist for the digital world. As a result, we can connect Spanish legislation, with Latin American legislation and with European legislation in a European project called “Unique Identifier Project”.
Technically it has two pillars: identifying regulations the same way and structuring the contents in the same way so that there is a constant dialogue of the machines about these structured products. This structuring of the contents will mean that, shortly, when we search for a concept, we will use a concept that we all sometimes need to understand, such as leasing, renting, or buying and selling, and we will get the results from the Spanish Legal Regime, from the Civil Code and the special legislation that regulates sales, but we can also access the Legal Regime of the countries that have been connected in the unique identity of the name of the regulations and the structuring of those contents.
These somewhat technical and difficult expressions in the end intend to break the hierarchy of territory and link types of regulatory content to each other in a purely conceptual or semantic relationship. In other words, the dictionary itself will refer it to the legal regime of each institution in different countries. So the borders disappear and are simply united by semantics, by words.
Could you give us an example that helps us understand a little better the interest of this shared information, for example, for a Spanish businessman with investment interests in Cuba?
Transparency, which is one of the fundamental values of the democratic system, needs a foundation, which is knowledge. If we do not have knowledge of the legal system as a first support for exercising our rights, it is impossible to participate, influence or access knowledge of administrative activities.
Therefore, we are talking about building basic realities on which second or third generation rights are built. Accessing knowledge of the legal system in a safe way, that is, accessing the law in force today and its temporary versions, is an essential requirement for the correct functioning of the institutions and also for the correct functioning of the economic operators who need to know these legal frameworks to make their operational decisions.
How important is technological safety in this field?
Brands such as the BOE, the Gazette of Cuba or the Parliament of the Republic in Chile, among others, are strengthened by official endorsement and offer security of knowledge. Above all, they guarantee the validity of the regulations that are consulted.
In your opinion, what is the future orientation of Cuba’s Gazette?
I believe that for the Republic of Cuba it is important to have a digital tool that allows accessibility to current regulations from the entire island.
I also think that it’s feasible because Cubans make extensive use of new technologies and it is therefore much easier now to access knowledge in a digital format than on paper.
I think myself that, given the development of new technologies and the intensive use of mobile devices by Cuban citizens, it would be more useful, but this is my personal opinion, to skip paper altogether and take a bet on a digital reality that other countries, for example, could not realize.
Likewise, in Spain in 2009, when it transitioned to a digital platform, first issued simultaneous applications of the Gazette, published both on paper and in a digital format.
At this time, I believe that Cuba could make the move to an exclusive, unique digital edition, with legal validity, saving the operational costs of paper. But it this is my personal opinion. From the point of view of administrative or political opportunity, it may be convenient to keep the paper edition while, at the same time, starting the digital format; but I do not see a technological obstacle, neither for the public, nor in the availability of mobile devices to make that leap towards the digital world in a more intense way.
The BOE, for example, only publishes three copies on paper to guarantee their custody, but only those three copies.
07 November 2019
"You see things with a different perspective, what cooperation looks like in the field, and it all adds up - you learn and expand your way of seeing things"
Pilar Fernández, coordinator of the ICRIME project, tells us about her experience as a FIIAPP expatriate, her adaptation to El Salvador and her daily routine in the country.
How long have you been in El Salvador? What has your adaptation to this country been like?
I landed in San Salvador on June 4, so I have spent more than five months coordinating the ICRIME project, which is funded by the European Union, AECID and the Central American Integration System (SICA). In the project, managed by the FIIAPP, the main objective is the reinforcement of investigation units, forensic institutes, and criminal investigation networks and procedures in the SICA.
As for the adaptation, it has not been very difficult since previously I had lived for a few periods of 3-4 months in San Salvador, between 2013 and 2017. Therefore, I already knew the city, how to move around the country, who to call to take a taxi, where to go shopping, what to visit, etc. In addition, friends here, both Salvadorans and Spaniards, always affectionately make you a new “welcome plan“.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
Although I have lived in San Salvador in previous years, it is still difficult to get used to the great storms and the tremors, as they call earthquakes here, since we are in the ‘Valley of the Hammocks’ for good reason and there are continuous ‘tremors’.
From another side, due to security issues, going for walks is tricky, and getting around the city on foot, especially after dark. Not having that freedom of movement is hard to get used to, since in Madrid I walked a lot.
The easiest things for me were the logistical issues of finding an apartment to live in for almost three and a half years. Thanks to my friend Xiomara, before arriving in San Salvador, I already had photographs of different apartments to choose from, because she took the time to visit them. In three days, I saw all the apartments and signed the rental agreement.
Do you have any special experiences or anecdotes about your arrival/adaptation to the country?
Well, certainly the arrival in San Salvador was somewhat rough, since we left Madrid airport three hours late. This was because the plane burst a tyre before entering the taxiway. So, we returned to the starting point at the airport, fire fighters came and in the end we had to change planes. But the aircraft’s alarm systems worked…
Also, as the flight goes via Guatemala, when we went to land at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, they told us that we had to keep circling in the airspace until a big storm passed… so another 40 minutes late… So, all-in-all a 24-hour trip.
So, you had lived in El Salvador before?
Yes, I had the experience of living in the ‘Tom Thumb of Central America’. I was managing two projects on issues of Central American regional integration and democratic security with SICA. Since the headquarters of the General Secretariat are in San Salvador, I moved here for different periods over five years.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
We are working at the headquarters of the Directorate of Democratic Security (DSD) of the General Secretariat of SICA. So the daily tasks in the office means being in contact with the DSD team that carries out the overall coordination of the project. In addition, being in the same building facilitates communication and work with the people who make up the Spain SICA Fund, an instrument of Spanish Cooperation that also implements other results from the project.
The team is now fully formed with two main specialists, the project manager, the three local people from El Salvador and myself as project coordinator. So coordination between the teams, with the Delegation of the European Union in Central America and with the beneficiary institutions, is vital to achieving the project results.
After leaving the office there is always a short time to share with friends, attend an event at the Cultural Centre of Spain in El Salvador, do some sport or rest. So the routine is a bit similiar to the one I had in Spain.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? And with your colleagues in El Salvador?
The relationship with the FIIAPP team in Madrid, with Esther Utrilla, Sonsoles de Toledo and Cristina de Matías, is close and daily. In fact, with Esther, due to the seven-hour difference between Spain and El Salvador, we leave one another WhatsApp messages to keep ourselves up to date, in addition to emails. I am also very grateful for the support of my colleagues in the Strategy and Communication area, Iosu Iribarren and Laura Ruiz. As well as Sara Ruiz from HR.
With respect to my colleagues in El Salvador, we have integrated quite well, we are gradually getting to know each other. Both Mariano Simancas, project manager and Lola Moreno, main expert and myself, are new to the FIIAPP, so we are learning together about the application of the internal procedures, and how to approach the implementation of the project. And of course, I have a great opportunity to learn about forensic topics and criminal investigation with them, since they have a vast and wide experience. So I’m very happy, because professional enrichment is guaranteed!
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
I value it positively. It’s a test, a calculated challenge. Having to leave your country, your city, family, your friends, that comfort zone – it’s not easy. But it means an evolution in professional and personal development.
You live outside Spain, and you also make a small family almost 8,700 kilometres from Madrid. You see the things that happen in our country, in El Salvador and in the Central American region from a different perspective, and you experience cooperation in the field, and this all adds up – you learn and expand your way of seeing things.
10 October 2019
"FIIAPP is a well-recognised Foundation and that gives one a very easily attained feeling of belonging"
Ernesto Prieto, coordinator of the project ‘Support for the forces of European Union law in the fight against drugs and organized crime in Peru’, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, tells us what his adaptation to the country and its daily routine has been like in the first months of the life of this project.
How long have you been in Peru? How have you adapted to this country?
I arrived in Lima on May 16, so I have only been here for a little more than 2 months. The truth is that it has not been difficult because I had already started here as a ‘Young Aid Worker’ and it has been a bit like coming home. On the other hand, I have seen many changes since the last time I was there, a more congested city, with a lot of traffic and a great deal of businesses, with a lot of coming and going and more momentum.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
What I found most difficult was the weather, because I came directly from my previous destination, in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and it meant landing in the southern winter, always cloudy and cold, but with time one adapts to anything What I found easiest, was being back in a place which was familiar to me, even finding friends that I had left behind years ago, it is nice reuniting with people you have not seen for a long time.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain? If not, is this one proving to be very different to your previous missions?
I have been away from Spain for a long time, I have worked in several countries, besides having already been in Peru, it isn’t such a different thing for me. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in my previous job in Peru, I was linked to a project in the Colca Valley, a province of Arequipa, a place high up in the mountains, and now in Lima things are very different, like food, the weather and the services one has access to.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
The work is not very different from a Spanish routine, or at least I think so, I have not worked there for a long time. But in the end, it is a management job that maybe similar to others that can be carried out in Spain. One thing that’s certainly true is that it begins very early so as to get around the problems of the 7-hour difference with Spain, with me trying to answer emails and calls to sort out issues as soon as possible. There is a lot of contact with partners and many meetings that help generate the necessary trust with the different stakeholders, it is a job that entails a lot of negotiation, of understanding in order, progressively, to be able to consolidate the processes.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? And with your colleagues in Peru?
From the beginning, it has been extraordinary both with the team in Madrid and with colleagues in Peru. They are very professional people, who really do know what they are doing, they are very experienced. Likewise, my colleagues in Peru are very well trained and skilled, they know what they want from the project and are clear that the idea is to create stronger institutional structures, so it is very easy to work like this.
How would you assess your experience of working as an FIIAPP expatriate?
Working with FIIAPP is a new experience for me. At the beginning, to a great extent, I had to adjust to new procedures, ways of doing things, but I was always supported in this, which enabled me to integrate quickly. On the other hand, I have always had the opportunity to be linked to government cooperation, developing institutional strengthening programmes that enabled the implementation or development of different public policies. However, I had never had the opportunity to work in a European context, being able to share the work with officials from different nationalities and sectors is proving to be very enriching professionally and personally, with continuous learning. That is of great value to me, working as an FIIAPP expatriate. In addition, it is a well-recognised Foundation and that gives one a very easily attained feeling of belonging.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in the country?
Well, at the beginning, I mentioned coming from a Caribbean climate where summer began with very high temperatures, to land in a place with permanent and cold cloud cover, because suddenly, I did not have the right clothes to go outside, so imagine how cold I was until I could quickly buy something warm to put on.
03 October 2019
We interview Jesús Gastón, general director of the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT) of Spain, who tells us about the importance of international cooperation in relation to tax agencies, and the benefits for citizens
How important is the Assembly of the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations (CIAT) for the Spanish administration?
Basically, the objective is to analyse all the factors related to human resources since, for tax administrations, their people are the main value they have. Often, we talk about the importance of information in managing tax systems, but our staff is the best thing we have. We have to take care of them, we have to understand how to process the best professionals, get enough of them, and use their work and that of other organizations. In short, get them to help us move forward in an increasingly changing world.
What contribution has the State Tax Administration Agency of Spain made to the CIAT Assembly?
We have extensive experience in participating in international forums, we know the European and American experience, and we try to learn from others while also explaining the steps we are taking to achieve an ever more professional staff, better trained and more adapted to the challenges of tax administration, and what we do is share our experience with others.
In the middle of the era of technology, where it is practically on a pedestal, it is striking that the reflection is on the human factor. How do the two pillars come into play in daily work?
Technology helps because it allows certain conflictive workers to be able to work in a much simpler way, but it also constitutes a very important challenge because the staff has to adapt to the technological changes, since otherwise we would be unable to take advantage of those changes. It is therefore critical to analyse the two factors together.
How important is international cooperation in tax matters, taxation, tax collection, collaboration between countries…?
It is decisive these days because the world is increasingly open and global. We need to coordinate our regulations to avoid the occurrence of tax evasion, aggressive tax fragmentation worldwide, and the existence of tax havens. And then the tax administrations have to share information, exchange it because companies, especially the largest, operate globally, and for them there is no reference country, rather they have to deal with many. Then we find that companies are global, but tax systems and tax administrations are local or national. The only way to deal with this problem is to act in an increasingly coordinated manner and exchange that information.
Cuba and its tax organization, with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT), is making a great effort in moving forward on this matter. There is an exchange programme of experts from the EU and Cuba in which Spain is actively participating. How does it look to you right now?
We have always collaborated very closely with Cuba, including, of course, in taxes. We have now been collaborating with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) for several years to help them in this process of change that all we tax administrations must now face by training our staff and incorporating new technologies. We have been helping them not only with human resources, but also with collection, taxpayer assistance, improving legal safeguards, and with procedure, and, indeed, we will continue to collaborate along all the lines that are considered a priority by the Cuban administration so that they achieve a goal as important as providing better service to citizens while also controlling the economic situation of the tax system .
In that sense, we always talk about social responsibility, the impact of citizens on tax policies. What are the benefits that citizens should take into account in their tax system?
The main goal of tax systems is to provide resources to public administrations, since these resources are essential to providing services to citizens. Education, health and infrastructure depend largely on the payment of taxes, and what needs to be done is to help the taxpayer who wants to fulfil their tax obligations, and one way to help them is not only by providing the service, but also obligating those who try to avoid taxes to pay them.
We talked about the impact of the benefits that the citizen obtains from having a tax system.
The main aim of tax systems is to provide revenue to public administrations so that they can provide services to citizens, such as health, education and infrastructure, and what tax administrations have to do is help taxpayers who want to comply so that it is as easy as possible to fulfil that obligation. An indirect way to help them is also by obligating those who do not want to pay the taxes they owe to do so as a result of the tax administration’s monitoring actions all for the benefit of all citizens through better services.