Tools for effective tax administration

The importance of conducting high-quality analysis for policy advice cannot be understated. The UNU-WIDER Winter School for tax policy research delivered the right tools for my day-to-day work.

I’m an economist working as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Policy Planning and Research Department of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). My work mostly involves policy analysis and research on a wide range of topics related to tax administration and tax policy. To improve my own and my organization’s capacities, I applied and got selected to take part in the UNU-WIDER Winter School in June and July online and in-person.

Keys for evidence-based policy advice

This training provided an excellent overview of tax-related research processes and methodologies. I learned several critical pieces of information that will undoubtedly influence my approach to research moving forward. This training particularly aided my understanding of when to use which research technique. The application of the right methodology with the right data is critical to credible evidence-based policy advice.

During the 3-day online training portion of the Winter School, I learned to use the Stata programme to come up with some powerful causal relationships to indicate impact. An important take-away for me was how to use theory of change to facilitate a deeper understanding of which policy design is most suitable for effective evaluation afterwards.

Networks are valuable resources

I believe the UNU-WIDER Winter School will help make a difference in African taxation capacities.

The best part of the programme, though, was the connection with the outstanding researchers from UNU-WIDER’s network during the in-person coursework in South Africa. The researchers were open to helping and working with us on future initiatives. An equally valuable resource is the network developed among the participants.

What I hope to gain from this experience in my work is to see improved efficiencies in the tax administration and a wider tax net. Though consisting of only 27 participants, I believe the UNU-WIDER Winter School will help make a big difference in African taxation capacities. For me, it was a big eye-opener and changemaker for my research career.

Janet Simbeye is a Senior Policy analyst at the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). She attended the UNU-WIDER Winter School on tax policy research in June-July 2022.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute or the United Nations University, nor the programme/project donors.