Posted on May 23, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Masood Ahmed
Most policymakers in the Middle East and North Africa agree that stronger economic growth is a crucial component of any strategy to address the region’s persistently high levels of unemployment and raise its living standards. One question that arises is: What role can the financial sector play?
It is well known that a dynamic and vibrant financial sector will improve economic outcomes for a country, leading to faster and more equitable economic growth. The key to answering this question, therefore, is to look to the past and examine how the financial sector has contributed historically to growth in the region. Continue reading
Filed under: Economic outlook, Employment, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Middle East | Tagged: bank credit, bank intermediation, banking competition, banking sector, credit information, economic growth, equity, financial depth, financial sector, financial services, financial shallowness, macroeconomic stability, Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and North Africa, stock market, unemployment | 7 Comments »
Posted on May 13, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Ruud de Mooij
In February, President Obama said “Companies are taxed heavily for making investments with equity; yet the tax code actually pays companies to invest using leverage”. And he is right: the corporate tax code in the United States creates a significant bias toward debt finance over equity.
Of course, the U.S. is not unique. In most of Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world, the tax advantages of debt finance are even bigger than in the U.S.
The crux of the issue is that interest paid on borrowing can be deducted from the corporate tax bill, while returns paid on equity—dividends and capital gains—cannot.
The debt distortion is not new. What is new, however, is that we have come to realize that excessive debt (or leverage) is much more costly than we have always thought. Continue reading
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: capital gains, corporate income tax, corporate profits, debt bias, debt finance, dividends, equity, financial crises, global financial crisis, interest deductiblity, investment, leverage, tax avoidance, tax deduction, tax incentives | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 22, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Carlo Cottarelli
You hear a lot these days—not least from me—about the fiscal problems of advanced economies. But let’s not forget the fiscal problems that low-income countries face, though they are of a different kind.
For all too many low-income countries, government tax revenues are far from enough to meet the needs of their people. Some have made good progress, and this helped them weather the crisis better than many advanced economies—but there is an underlying, quiet crisis of inadequately resourced governments. Continue reading
Filed under: Asia, Fiscal policy, International Monetary Fund, Latin America, Low-income countries | Tagged: corruption, domestic tax revenues, efficiency, equity, fairness, governance, Millennium Development Goals, political will, poverty reduction, preferrential tax treatment, tax administration, tax evasion, tax exemptions, tax policy | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 21, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Mark Plant
(Version in Français. Listen to the podcast in English or Français.)
Governments in Africa have a prime objective—to reduce poverty. To improve living standards and create jobs, they need to provide their citizens with better health care, better education, more infrastructure. They need to build hospitals, schools, and to pay doctors, nurses, teachers.
All this costs money. How to pay for this—in a way that is both fair and efficient—is a question that all governments face.
There are limits to how much a government can receive as grants from donors or borrow from donors or the private sector. So raising tax revenues is a necessary element for governments to spend on providing more of these essential services and, in turn, reduce poverty. Continue reading
Filed under: Africa, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries | Tagged: AFRITACS, domestic tax revenues, education, equity, health spending, infrastructure, natural resources, poverty reduction, regional technical assistance center, Sub-Saharan Africa, tax administration, tax exemptions, tax policy, taxpayer protection, technical assistance, topical trust funds, trade liberalization, Value-Added Tax, VAT | 6 Comments »