Bill expanding fiscal info exchange passes first reading

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The Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the first reading of the bill expanding the city’s fiscal information exchange yesterday, while the city’s economy head stressed it is urgent to implement the proposal by 2018.
As a member of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange Information for Tax Purposes, the MSAR has agreed to implement the organisation’s Common Reporting Standard by next year.
The current bill proposes the enabling of automatic and spontaneous exchange of financial account information for tax purposes among jurisdiction members. Currently, Macau only permits fiscal information exchange by request, which was enforced in 2009.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac explained yesterday that the government’s delay in submitting the bill to the legislature was because it had to wait for neighbouring SAR Hong Kong to enforce its own regulations first.
“Hong Kong only approved similar regulations in June, 2016, so only after that did the MSAR have a reference for [its] application,” the Secretary said.
“International standards demand strict collaboration between financial institutions. Since financial institutions in Hong Kong and the MSAR have close ties, it would have a negative impact on local financial entities if different regulations are imposed,” the official further explained.
The necessity to translate the original international requirements from English and French was also identified by the Secretary as another reason causing the delay.
The current law proposal states financial data would start being collected from July 1 of this year but the director of the Financial Services Bureau (DSF), Iong Kong Leong, explained only information covering the last five years would be collected.
Some legislators expressed concerns about how the privacy of the shared information would be maintained. But the DSF head assured the government it would follow international standards for information transfer, as required by the OECD Global Forum, guaranteeing that the city’s databases are independent and well protected.