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​​Learning retreat on sub-national taxation and financing

8 to 11 March 2016, Brighton, United Kingdom


The learning retreat explores the topic of sub-national financing, including taxation, and particularly property taxation, informal taxation, and inter-governmental transfers, amongst others. The retreat's objective was to expose participants to current thinking and research in the field. HERE you find a list with links to the workshop documents.

Day 1 focused on the topic of fiscal decentralisation and sub-national financing.Giulia Mascagni from the Institute of Development Studies IDS gave a broad background on the conceptual and theoretical issues around fiscal decentralisation. She then looked at how inter- governmental transfers can be designed to ensure a stable stream of resources for lower-tier governments, while not discouraging their own revenue generation efforts [PDF]. Andres Mejia Acosta from King's College London looked at the existing criteria and reform modalities adopted to allocate and use extractive industry related revenues, and examined the political bargains that enabled such distribution [PPT]. Paul Smoke from New York University reviewed key principles, considered neglected factors that are central to effective action, and outlined productive approaches and experiences to improving local revenue generation [PPT].

Day 2 focused specifically on the role of the donors as catalyst of fiscal decentralisation.Nara Monkam from the African Tax Administration Forum ATAF looked at the state of fiscal decentralisation reforms in different African countires and the role of the donors in assisting African countries in designing and implementing their fiscal decentralisation processes [PPT]. Christopher Nell, Alexander Grunauer, Saranda Cana-Pruthi from IDS and SDC highlighted practical problems and obstacles linked to the collection of property tax, and pragmatic ways in which local tax revenues can be boosted [PDF]. Alex Shankland from IDS discussed how participatory budgeting in particular and social accountability initiatives in general influence relations between citizens/taxpayers and municipal government [PPT]. Richard Crook from IDS examined empirically the general assumption that maximising locally-raised revenue sources will help to enhance accountability through a closer and more legitimate relationship between the government authority and local citizen [PPT].

Day 3 focused on informal taxation systems, the taxation biased against the interest of women, and potential conflicts due to tax systems.Jean-Pierre Tranchant from IDS examined the question "Is decentralisation an effective device for reducing or preventing ethnic violence?" [PPT] [PDF]. Wilson Prichard from the University of Toronto discussed informal taxation. The terminology can refer both to ways to include the informal sector in the tax net, and to practices of resource extraction that are carried out by informal actors, rather than according to statutory state laws [PPT][PDF]. Finally, Anuradha Joshi from SDC reviewed what is known about the gender implications of tax and examine the ways in which gender and taxation are linked [PPT] [PDF].

Day 4 focused on property taxation.Tom Goodfellow from the University of Sheffield talked about the challenges of introducing an urban property tax. It is one of the most underutilised forms of taxation in less developed countries, as well as being potentially the most progressive tax available to local governments [PPT] [PDF]. Nara Monkam from ATAF continued this thought by looking at the use of property taxes in African countries. This type of tax could represent an important, if not the best, source of stable revenue at the subnational level in both developed and developing countries [PPT]. Finally, Mick Moore from IDS illustrated the property tax collection on the basis of a case study from Pakistan [PDF].

You can read the WORKSHOP REPORT here. Here below are all documents relevant to the workshop. First, the background documents, then the workshop presentations.