Boosting Domestic Revenues for Development: Bank Support to Tax Policy and Administration in Africa
Improving revenue administrations during times of economic downturn was one of the key challenges discussed at an international seminar on cooperation on tax policy and revenue administration in Fes, Morocco, from March 30-April 1, 2009. The seminar was organized by Morocco’s General Tax Administration and the OECD Center for Tax Policy. It brought together over 60 tax officials and representatives of international organizations from around the world, including the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group. Commenting on the adverse impact of the economic crisis, Carlos Santiso, AfDB Sector Manager for Governance, pointed out how the crisis was reducing the fiscal space, stressing that “generating and administering national revenues is one of the most important functions of a state, a foundation upon which all else depends.” The seminar enabled participants to share lessons and good practices in tax reform and progress being made in revenue management. Participants from African countries recognized that developing a solid revenue administration and a fair tax system contributed to building states, financing development priorities and reducing dependency on external funding.
The seminar also called for greater efforts to combat corruption and bribery in tax policy and administration. The need to mobilize domestic revenues in an efficient, transparent and fair manner was also underscored most recently in the Doha International Conference on Financing for Development in 2008. Mobilizing domestic resources also matters when it comes to building capable states, encouraging engaged societies and strengthening domestic accountability.
“Effective revenue governance is part of a broader process towards an African-led agenda for good governance and a central thrust of the Bank’s strategy in support of such an agenda,” Mr. Santiso stressed.
Delegates from African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia also discussed the establishment of an African Tax Administrations Forum (ATAF), which is receiving support from the Bank’s governance department. Mr. Santiso reaffirmed Bank support to ATAF, following the AfDB President Donald Kaberuka’s endorsement of this initiative at its launching conference in Pretoria in August 2008. ATAF aims at becoming a platform for articulating African tax priorities, anchoring good practices, and building capacity in African tax policies and revenue administration through peer learning and knowledge development. For more information on the Bank’s work in governance, go to www.afdb.org/governance or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org