Indigenous economic development – future fund

Recently, The Australian reported on a proposed plan by the Federal Government to enable tax-exempt indigenous Community Future Funds with deductible gift recipient status.

This a very sensible idea, particularly if it allows for spending on infrastructure in communities, economic development and joint venturing with private investors to deliver projects.

The Australian article reports that an Indigenous Community Development Corporation will be set up to oversee this initiative to accept funds (for example, from royalties) and distribute funds on a tax-free basis, in a way that provides for greater flexibility compared to the current charitable trusts.

This idea is in the context of wider reforms, based on recommendations of the Working Group on Taxation of Native Title and Traditional Owner Benefits and Governance.

The Minerals Council of Australia supports the concept.   Mitch Hooke, CEO, points out the Minerals Council has been advocating this idea since 2009.  Mr Hooke said that the “new not-for-profit bodies will greatly assist Indigenous people better manage funds received through native title  agreements [and this is a] reform  that addresses some of the key pitfalls of trust arrangements that are currently available and gives native title groups  more choice in how best to manage their funds and their futures.”  Mr Hooke added that the “ICDC will have the capacity to provide incentives for Indigenous peoples to not only fund community development activities to alleviate social disadvantage, but also economic development activities enabling individuals and families to participate in the mainstream economy.”

As someone famous once said, there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.