Raising Government Revenue in Africa: A Road out of Poverty


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

Ten Commandments for Fiscal Adjustment in Advanced Economies


By Olivier Blanchard and Carlo Cottarelli

(Version in عربي   中文    Français    Русский   Español)

Advanced economies are facing the difficult challenge of implementing fiscal adjustment strategies without undermining a still fragile economic recovery. Fiscal adjustment is key to high private investment and long-term growth. It may also be key, at least in some countries, to avoiding disorderly financial market conditions, which would have a more immediate impact on growth, through effects on confidence and lending. But too much adjustment could also hamper growth, and this is not a trivial risk. How should fiscal strategies be designed to make them consistent with both short-term and long-term growth requirements?

We offer ten commandments to make this possible. Put simply, what advanced countries need is clarity of intent, an appropriate calibration of fiscal targets, and adequate structural reforms. With a little help from monetary policy, and from their (emerging market) friends.

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Fair and Substantial—Taxing the Financial Sector


By Carlo Cottarelli

(Version in 日本語  )

We knew we were in for a tough time when the leaders of the Group of Twenty (G-20) asked the IMF to give them our views, at their summit coming up in June 2010, on  “… the range of options countries have adopted or are considering as to how the financial sector could make a fair and substantial contribution toward paying for any burden associated with government interventions to repair the banking system.”

Everyone has strong feelings these days on the taxation of the financial sector. Taxpayers who financed the rescue of the financial sector during the recent crisis want their money back—or at least not to get caught again. Some want to see more of the money coursing through the financial system turned to public use.

The industry worries about new taxes coming on top of the swathe of regulatory reforms that likely lies ahead for them. And some governments in countries whose financial sector weathered the storm pretty well wonder why they should now ask it for cash. Responding to the request from the G-20 leaders puts us in the middle of all these concerns.

Last week the IMF gave an interim report to the G-20 finance ministers focused on the specific question we were asked: what are the options in raising money from the financial sector to pay for the costs of government intervention from which it benefits. That report is confidential, but—you may have noticed—has still managed to attract a lot of attention.  So let me set out how our thinking on this stands.

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