Mick Moore on COVID-19 and taxation in Africa

WIDER Webinar Series

Mick Moore on COVID-19 and taxation in Africa

Professor Mick Moore joined the WIDER Webinar Series to discuss post-pandemic public revenue mobilization in Africa, with Milly Isingoma Nalukwago as discussant.

Tax after the pandemic: can Africa raise the revenue it needs?

While no one knows what the economic cost of the pandemic will be for Africa, or how much of the burden the international community might share, it’s clear that African governments are going to need to boost revenues to finance economic recovery.

What are the chances that they can raise this revenue effectively without a major change of policy and strategy? Where will the additional revenue come from? Are they on track to raise it?

In recent years, there has been a hopeful tone to discussions about public revenue in sub-Saharan Africa. The big question has been how far African governments themselves might finance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Aid has moved out of the spotlight. With the arrival of COVID-19 that is now all in flux.

At first glance, there are promising signs. Public revenues have been increasing. Tax administrations have been reformed. But a closer look induces more pessimism. Revenue collections have only been increasing at the same rate of GNP growth. Some revenue sources are now shrinking rapidly. Tax administrations still suffer many basic weaknesses. Wealthy Africans are often grossly under-taxed. And too many people in authority are focused on the fruitless task of registering more and more small businesses for tax purposes.

If they are to respond effectively to the crisis, African tax administrations need to up their game, to make more effective use of digital technologies, and to focus much more on obtaining revenue from the top 20%.

Milly Nalukwago will join the webinar as discussant. She will share insights on the preparations the Ugandan Revenue Authority is making to address the issue of tax after the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNU-WIDER Senior Research Fellow, Rachel Gisselquist will chair the event. 

About the speakers

Professor Mick Moore is professorial fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and a senior fellow of the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD).

He is a political economist, with broad interests in governance and public administration in low income countries, and specific interests in taxation and development. He has extensive field research experience, especially in Sri Lanka, Taiwan and India. He has done advisory work in many countries in Africa and Asia, including recent work on revenue issues in Meghalaya State (India), Papua New Guinea, Somaliland, and Sri Lanka.

Milly Isingoma Nalukwago is the Assistant commissioner for Research, planning and development at Uganda Revenue Authority. She has 25 years of experience in tax administration in Uganda, and she is the Head of Uganda's delegation to the East Africa Revenue authorities' technical Forum.

Milly Nalukwago is also the Chief editor of the EAC Regional Comparative Report and the EAC Tax Compendium Report, Advisor at the Africa Tax Administration Forum  on Africa Tax Outlook, and member of board and researcher at the The International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) and at UNU-WIDER.

WIDER Webinar series

The WIDER Webinar Series provides a platform to discuss COVID-19 and its effect on development and impact on the Global South. The webinars feature speakers renowned for their work on development issues, presenting new research on the implications they foresee of COVID-19.