Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

Figure 1: Tax Expenditure as a % of GDP

Time to Pay More Attention to Tax Expenditures?

It is time that donors and technical assistance providers turn their attention to tax concessions provided by developing countries struggling to raise more taxes from domestic sources. The granting of tax concessions is not only mostly opaque and prone to corruption, but these concessions are further constricting the already narrow tax base of countries, thereby undermining the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to promote domestic resource mobilization. There is a risk that additional revenues collected through tax reforms may be lost through tax concessions.

Stock photo of various currencies

Merely Collecting More Taxes Is Not Enough to Achieve the SDGs

In development circles these days, there is considerable emphasis on developing countries collecting more taxes domestically to help achieve the SDGs. But with this attention to domestic resource mobilization, we shouldn’t lose sight of a critical point: collecting more taxes will only advance the SDGs if the revenues are spent efficiently.

Map of countries involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative coded by their risk of debt distress

Will China's Belt and Road Initiative Push Vulnerable Countries into a Debt Crisis?

In a new CGD paper, we assess the likelihood of debt problems in the 68 countries we identify as potential BRI borrowers. The big takeaway: BRI is unlikely to cause a systemic debt problem, yet the initiative will likely run into instances of debt problems among select participating countries—requiring better standards and improved debt practices from China.

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.

Inside the IFC's Portfolio: The IFC Responds

IFC Spokesman Frederick Jones has replied to our blog on the IFC’s risk appetite. First off, thanks to Fred and the IFC for replying. The Corporation has a unique role to play in global development finance and we’re keen for that role to grow, so we’re happy that the report has generated so much conversation about IFC’s portfolio, both within and outside IFC. And second, we commend IFC for its plans to do more in poor countries and those that are classified as fragile states—it is where the Corporation can have the most impact and where it is most needed.

Is the IFC Taking On Even Less Risk Than We Suggest? Our Readers Respond

Since the publication of our paper on the IFC’s project portfolio last week, we have received several helpful comments from readers. They plausibly suggest that the portfolio may be (even) less risky than we suggested, with even more space to pivot towards the low income countries where the IFC can make the most difference. But until the IFC publishes more information, we won’t really know.

Aid Transparency and Private Sector Subsidies at the IFC

Vijaya Ramachandran, Ben Leo, Jared Karlow and I have just published two papers looking at where and in what capacity the IFC, OPIC, and selected European development finance institutions (DFIs) are investing their money. The core of the papers is a dataset that Jared painstakingly put together by scraping public documentation about DFI projects. It wasn’t easy because DFIs are considerably behind many aid agencies in releasing usable data on their portfolios. And that lack of transparency presents a significant problem if those same DFIs spend aid money on subsidizing the private sector.

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