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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Pile of Euros. Adobe Stock.

The Wise Persons Group Report on Europe’s Development Finance Architecture: Merger, Acquisition, or Reinvention?

Earlier this month, the long-awaited report on the future of the European financial architecture for development was released. Are the report’s proposals feasible? And crucially, do they offer a magic bullet to the intractable state of the European development finance system? I argue that although some of the proposals go some way towards offering a solution to the current problem, politics will undoubtedly trump logic, and we will—at least in the near future—be left with a stalemate.

The Pitfalls of Leverage Targets

Since the 2015 financing for development agreement, donor governments and their development finance institutions have all been singing from the same hymn sheet: we must do more to mobilize private investment. Here I will argue that setting leverage targets in isolation might not get us what we want: more investment in developing countries. Overall investment volumes in chosen markets may make a better target, but any incentives must be soft to minimize the temptation to put public money where it is not needed.

DFIs Embark on a Voyage of Rediscovery

Development finance institutions (DFIs) have long resisted the idea that they ought to support coordinated national development strategies in the countries that they invest in, but if conversations around private roundtables at the recent World Bank/IMF meetings are anything to go by, that’s where they may be heading. And if so, it may be the private sector itself that leads them there.

Why Development Finance Institutions Use Tax Havens

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) exist to promote development by investing in the poorest, least developed countries. They often route those investments via holding companies or private equity funds domiciled in tax havens. On the face of it, that seems absurd: tax havens are widely seen as a drain on development, depriving cash-strapped governments of billions of dollars in public revenue. In a new paper I argue that whilst widespread opposition to DFIs investing via tax havens is understandable, it is misguided. Banning the use of tax havens would do more harm than good. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How Do Tax Incentives Impact Investment?

There are arguments for and against “spending through the tax system.” On one hand tax incentives are relatively easy to implement; they don’t require an outlay of cash and they make use of information that revenue agencies already collect. But on the other, loading the tax system with too many policy objectives conflicts with the drive for a coherent, simple, transparent tax system. Despite decades of advice from international organisations to curtail tax incentives, they remain a popular tool for governments.

Solving the Private Sector Aid Imbroglio

In 2014, Mark Lowcock, then head of the UK’s Department for International Development, pulled off an unexpected coup: securing an agreement between donor governments on new rules for counting official loans as aid. Some neat diplomatic footwork is needed again now, because negotiations over extending this agreement to donors’ investments in the private sector are threatening to fall apart. Among the consequences could be that the UK walks away from using internationally agreed standards for measuring aid and starts to create its own statistics. Other countries may follow.