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OECD should focus on climate crisis and inequality, says Hildebrand

Former Swiss National Bank Chairman Philipp Hildebrand, who has been nominated to lead the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), says the Paris-based organisation can play a key role in the area of green investment.

In his first wide-ranging interview since the former central bank chairman was nominated as a candidate for the OECD, Hildebrand told SonntagsZeitung that he saw three key priorities for the Paris-based organisation: fighting inequality and climate change and restructuring the global tax system.

“The first is the problem of inequality. The economic model of the past 15 years has led to greater inequality in income and wealth distribution around the world,” he said.

The second issue, he said, is investing money in a way that simultaneously promotes growth and curbs climate change.

“The public sector is investing huge amounts of money to deal with the current crisis. As a result, countries will have higher debt levels than after the Second World War. That is why it is crucial how the billions are invested,” he said.

“On the one hand, the money must promote growth – for example, through more innovation – in order to be able to repay the debt. At the same time, the money must be invested in such a way that climate change is slowed down.”

Hildebrand said global solutions were also needed to sort out the tax system.

“The combination of digitalisation and globalisation means that it’s easy for corporations to stop paying taxes at all. That is why I am in favour of minimum taxation in principle,” he said.

The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries. Its aim is to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Switzerland was one of the founding members of the organisation when it was created in 1961.

If the Swiss candidacy is successful, the 57-year-old would succeed Angel Gurría of Spain as OECD secretary-general at the end of May 2021. To date there are eight candidates in the running in a nomination process that will be finalised next February.

Hildebrand was chairman of the Swiss National Bank between 2010 and 2012, before he stepped down under pressure, notably from the political right over a private currency deal.

He later joined BlackRock, a leading asset management company, and has held the position of vice-president there since 2012.

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