IMF and Kenya Host Conference for Sub-Saharan Africa on Improving Tax Revenue Mobilization

Press Release No. 11/93
March 21, 2011

A conference hosted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Government of Kenya begins today, bringing together senior tax officials from over 40 African countries to help improve tax revenue mobilization across sub-Saharan Africa. The March 21-22 conference is being organized in the context of the IMF’s ongoing technical assistance, through which the Fund works to improve expertise and technical capacity of its members, in particular low-income countries. The conference also responds to the G-20 initiative on enhancing revenue mobilization in developing countries.

“Fair and efficient tax revenue systems are essential to the long-term sustainability of public finances in low-income countries,” said Carlo Cottarelli, the IMF’s Director of Fiscal Affairs. “Effective revenue collection can unlock vital resources for African countries to tackle the root causes of poverty and promote their long-term development in an equitable and transparent manner.”

Heads of national revenue collection authorities and finance ministry staff up to deputy minister and ministers are taking part in the conference, along with representatives of regional bodies involved in tax affairs and civil society organizations. The conference will provide an opportunity for senior government officials in charge of tax policy and administration to exchange experiences about what has worked well in enhancing revenue mobilization and improving equity. Topics range from efforts to enhance governance to opportunities arising from regional integration. Country officials will also discuss challenges in the taxation of natural resources as well as reforms in business taxation.

“This is a good opportunity for sub-Saharan African countries to reflect on their tax policy and administration regimes as they chart the way forward to become more self reliant in resource mobilization to fund their pressing spending needs,” said Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. “We look forward to sharing our experience and learning from colleagues on what has worked in the revamp of our tax legislation and administration.” 

The IMF’s technical assistance is provided free of charge to low-income countries through the IMF’s own resources and donor contributions. Efforts in this area are being expanded through Regional Technical Assistance Centers and targeted “topical trust funds” established to provide assistance in critical areas and funded by multiple donors. To enhance its capacity to deliver technical assistance on revenue mobilization and natural resource management, two new IMF topical trust funds financed by multiple donors are due to begin operating in May 2011. These will support some US$55 million in technical assistance over the next five years related to Tax Policy and Administration and Managing Resources Wealth (see Press Release Nos. 10/497 and 10/500).

“Tax revenues in sub-Saharan Africa tend to be low relative to national income while needs for public spending are high,” said Mark Plant, Deputy Director of the IMF’s Africa Department. “Enhancing tax structures and revenue collection systems is a priority for many countries across this region. The extensive support provided to our member countries through the IMF’s technical assistance program is being ratcheted up to address the growing demand.”

Three of the IMF’s seven regional technical assistance centers are located in Africa: in Tanzania (serving East Africa), Mali (serving parts of West Africa) and Gabon (serving Central Africa). New regional centers are scheduled to open in Mauritius (serving Southern Africa) in May 2011 and in Ghana (serving other parts of West Africa).

Useful links:

Conference homepage:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/seminars/eng/2011/SSA/index.htm

Factsheet on IMF Technical Assistance:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/tech.htm

Factsheet on IMF Regional Technical Assistance Centers:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/afritac.htm

Technical Assistance: Key Issues briefing:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/key/tech.htm

IMF Survey article on Trust Funds for tax-related technical assistance:

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2011/POL020111A.htm



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