Constraints to Enhanced Revenue Mobilization and Spending Quality in Kenya

Nelson H. W. Wawire
January 13, 2020

This study addresses constraints to enhanced revenue mobilization and spending quality in Kenya. The structure and growth of Kenya’s economy and spending quality have a bearing on its taxable capacity. Constraints to enhancement of revenue mobilization and spending quality include the existence of a large informal sector; inadequate information on property ownership; perceived corruption; inefficient use of public resources; political interference; volatile election cycles; abuse of tax incentives; uneven transfer pricing; illicit financial flows; and untaxed online businesses, coupled with poor administrative capacity and tax policy design. Policy implications on revenue performance are (1) the National Treasury and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) should focus on property taxes and capital gains taxes to expand the tax base; (2) development partners are needed to direct technical assistance to the informal sector, to aid with transfer pricing, to monitor illicit financial flows, and to properly tax online businesses; (3) greater use of technology is needed to increase efficiency; (4) intervention by the Geospatial Information System is needed to link data on land and property ownership with tax information in the existing database; (5) a pay-for-results model needs to be deployed; (6) need to reduce tax expenditures; and policy reforms to be initiated in the agricultural sector. The policy implications on expenditure are (1) the need for efficient utilization of tax revenues; (2) the need for implementation of digital technologies; (3) the need to revisit an integrated financial management information system (IFMIS) configuration; (4) the need to adhere to long-term planning; and (5) adoption of the GFS 2014 reporting standard. Overall, an independent entity needs to be established that will set budget ceilings, monitor budget implementation, and carry out audits.

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