Many developing countries are pursuing domestic revenue mobilization (DRM) initiatives, which is critical for them to finance the spending necessary to enable sustainable development. The need for DRM has now taken on greater urgency given the fiscal implications of the COVID-19 crisis.
CGD Policy Blogs
In this blog post, we argue that the COVID-19 crisis has made it imperative for developing countries to begin reforming their tax systems to generate more resources domestically—reforms which they have postponed until now because of vested interests. Reforming tax expenditures would not only generate additional revenues, but it would also improve taxpayer perception of the fairness of the tax system and enhance budget transparency.
While there is debate in the management literature about the primacy of measurement in effecting change, there is no doubt that it is a necessary component of bringing about lasting change.
In a recently published paper we examine the experience of 45 developing countries (23 emerging and 22 low-income countries) over the 2000-2015 period and find that tax reforms have raised the income share of the poorest population groups within countries.
Even as the COVID-19 curve begins to flatten in the Northern Hemisphere, the developing world is just starting to feel its onslaught. Just as in the United States, where some of the most effective responses to the global pandemic are generated locally, the success of developing countries will also be determined by the actions of local leaders, citizens, and organizations—including fiscal responses.
Virtually all countries in the world have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by implementing fiscal and monetary measures, significantly larger in relation to national output than those employed during the 2008 financial crisis. The magnitude of fiscal measures to counter the shock varies across developing and advanced economies.
The IMF estimates that on average, low-income countries (LIC) will need additional resources amounting to 15.4 percent of GDP to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education, health, roads, electricity, and water by 2030. These resource requirements are even greater in sub-Saharan Africa than in a typical LIC: the median sub-Saharan African country faces additional spending of about 19 percent of GDP. In the average LIC, the IMF estimates that of the required additional financing, 5 percentage points of GDP would have to come from domestic taxes.
While sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have made some progress in collecting more taxes domestically in the last 20 years, international tax issues remain a significant concern for these and other developing countries, reflecting aggressive tax planning by multinational enterprises (MNEs) and the international initiatives designed by G20-OCED countries in response. Drawing on a new CGD paper on international taxation and developing countries, we argue here that the time has come for SSA countries, and developing countries in general, to take unilateral action.
The international community is continuously exhorting developing countries, particularly the low-income ones, to mobilize more revenues domestically, but could reducing tax concessions provide a "grand bargain" for developing countries?
Following the second roundtable held with African finance ministers and central bank governors, Sanjeev Gupta and Mark Plant explore tax concessions and the challenges of meeting the targets for domestic resource mobilization set under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.