This paper surveys the literature on the political economy of domestic tax reform, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. The review looks at the main players involved in the politics of tax reform, the way in which the substance of tax reform shapes political forces, and the process by which taxes are eventually reformed, including how the reforms are framed and understood. Download the paper.
May 2019 | By Jason Lakin, PhD, Head of Research, International Budget Partnership
How can we build a moral case for equitable budgets and redistributive policies that will resonate with a broad cross-section of society?
This reflective piece points to the need to collect more evidence on attitudes about fairness across countries and communities and to fashion messages that emphasize our common humanity, rather than our differences.
February 2019 | By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership
Improving budget transparency practices is particularly important to enable the adequate monitoring and assessment of governments’ efforts to tackle poverty and inequality, and to understand the impact that budgets have on different groups of people.
This paper, part of our work related to how budgets can promote equity and justice, looks at the information governments provide on the impact of their budget policies on poor and disadvantaged groups – and on poverty and inequality more generally. The analysis is based on the results of three questions from the Open Budget Survey 2017 meant to hone in on these issues. Findings demonstrate that, on average, governments publish very little information on these topics, thereby limiting the ability of civil society to monitor these efforts and hold their governments accountable.
February 2019 | by Paolo de Renzio and Jason Lakin, International Budget Partnership
Current approaches to public finance and government budgets, with their narrow focus on macroeconomic stability and economic growth, have fallen short in responding to citizens’ needs and promoting socioeconomic development that benefits all. The limitations of these approaches, and their consequences, can be summarized as follows:
- An overemphasis on fiscal discipline and economic growth relative to equity and service delivery.
- Skewed distribution of costs and benefits.
- Limited space for citizen involvement and broad debate and deliberation.
- An overly technical approach to budget reforms.
The confluence of these factors contributes not only to growing levels of inequality and to persistent poverty and exclusion, but also to people’s growing disaffection with governments, with whom they feel little connection and on whom they are able to exert limited influence.
This paper outlines the elements of a proposal to reframe debates around public finance and government budgets, drawing on the inter-related concepts of justice, democracy, and human rights, and putting more emphasis on issues of equity, sustainability, effectiveness and inclusion. The authors address some of the shortcomings of current approaches and propose a more solid, normative foundation on which public finance decisions can be assessed and taken.
April 2018 | By International Budget Partnership Kenya
Each year Kenya’s Parliament must decide how national revenue will be shared between national and county governments. This discussion is informed by recommendations from the Commission on Revenue Allocation and the National Treasury. This analysis compares the recommendations made by both agencies on the equitable share and conditional grants and explores the main drivers of their differences. Three key issues emerge:
- Both agencies do not agree on the revenue growth factor that should be used to determine the growth of the equitable share between 2017/18 and 2018/19.
- The formation and allocation to conditional grants do not seem to follow any predictable pattern, and the growth in their allocations from one year to the next appear to be arbitrary.
- The distribution criteria for some of these funds is inequitable and unfair to recipients of the funds.