Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.

 

The Commitment to Development Index after 15 Years: Quo Vadis?

Think tanks and international organisations publish a lot of indices that rank countries or institutions by their policies. We ourselves here at CGD we have recently published the fifteenth edition of the Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 27 rich countries by how their policies affect the lives of people in poorer countries. As we embark on a review of the CDI, here we start by looking other across country-level indices to see if the CDI is still distinct.

Truth to Power: Five Things Officials Might Not Tell You about the UK and Global Development

Penny Mordaunt has been confirmed as the UK’s new Secretary of State for Development. Coming fresh to an agenda can be a major asset, but it can be hard to pick out the things that really matter. As civil servants dust off their detailed briefs, we try to stand back and identify five points that we think are important to understand about the UK’s role in global development on Day 1 in the job.

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. 

Stop Spreading the Myth: Zambia Is Not Losing $3 Billion to Tax Avoidance

If transparency in debates around matters of natural resource wealth, then so too does the way that figures get translated into public debates.  Earlier this month the Lusaka Times published a claim that multinational mining companies were “robbing Zambia of an estimated $3billion annually through tax evasion and illicit financial flows.” I have written about the Zambia Copper Billions before. I don’t think the figure is at all credible, and I am not the only one. Organisations that have allowed this myth to spread have not done any favours to the people of Zambia, and they have a responsibility to put it right. 

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.

UK Trade White Paper: A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity for Development

The UK government has made a welcome commitment to improve trade access for poor countries after Brexit. The question in the White Paper is how to do that. Brexit offers the opportunity to replace the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements with a simpler, broader and more generous regime that encourages developing countries to export more.

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.    

German Elections: What Merkel’s "Jamaica Coalition" Might Mean for Global Development

Germans have given Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term as chancellor, but once again without a parliamentary majority. It seems likely that Merkel will now try to negotiate a black-green-yellow “Jamaica coalition” (referring to the parties’ colors) with the Greens and the pro-business Liberals replacing the Social Democrats as coalition partners. Despite the gain in vote for nationalists, our analysis suggests the Jamaica coalition could actually strengthen Germany’s role in accelerating global development, as well as benefitting Germany.

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