Interview: Joachim Bilé-Aka; Michel K Brizoua-Bi
What impact will the upcoming transfer pricing rules have on companies?
JOACHIM BILE-AKA & MICHEL K BRIZOUA-BI: For companies doing business outside Côte d’Ivoire, these new policies will inevitably have an impact on their way of operating. These new measures are part of a global trend towards more transparency in capital flows. In this context, we should not see an increase in taxes; merely a change in financial reporting procedures and disclosure requirements. For companies, this will translate into a need to reorganise their information systems and procedures, especially in terms of dealings with foreign counterparts.
Ongoing discussions between the General Confederation of Businesses of Côte d’Ivoire and the government point towards a possible synthesis and harmonisation of procedural requirements and audit controls to ensure that these measures do not become an additional burden on private operators.
Legal councillors that deal with fiscal matters are participating in the writing and enactment of the required judiciary texts. These regulations will govern these policies to ensure their adequacy in meeting the standards of international law and will ensure that all parameters take into consideration the needs of all stakeholders.
Law firms are increasingly participating in workshops and discussions to help better respond to the growing need for competencies on matters related to transfer pricing practices.
How can the legal framework be improved upon?
BILE-AKA & BRIZOUA-BI: Côte d’Ivoire has one of the most modern legal systems in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, although much work still needs to be done. Given our position within the bloc, reforms need to be applied in unison with other member countries, which does present some challenges in terms of reactivity and flexibility. Countries remain in competition with one another on economic matters. Therefore, finding common ground is sometimes challenging, as governments are not always in harmony. However, striking an equilibrium in this regard is necessary to ensure the modernisation of the regional legal framework. Within Côte d’Ivoire, we believe that it is important that the legal framework be adapted to cater to the needs of a wider population.
As with fiscal matters, the legal framework is known and applied among larger firms and the upper echelons of society, yet kept at arm’s length from small and medium-sized enterprises, informal operators and low-income individuals. Legal boundaries need to be extended across the economy to ensure that the entire community understands and has access to legal counselling. Only by adapting the fiscal and legal environment to respond to the needs of all segments will we see the formal sector gain ground against the informal sector.
How can Côte d’Ivoire bolster its position as a regional economic centre?
BILE-AKA & BRIZOUA-BI: As previously mentioned, Côte d’Ivoire has already established a number of incentives meant to improve the overall business environment and secure investment. Our ambitions now require us to shorten the gap between the adopted policies and their practical application. This is especially true concerning matters related to administrative procedures, public tenders, transparency, respect of the rule of law and so on. The development of our economy will necessitate that investors and business people acknowledge and respect the law. Only through this will we create a secure environment for investment, such as those found in Mauritius, Singapore and elsewhere. Incidences of corruption and nepotism must be replaced with transparency and technocratic approaches.
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