Taxation is a path to better governance

17 December 2010

17 December 2010

The debate over tax and its relationship to better governance has come to the fore in recent years, as developing countries and aid agencies have increasingly questioned the effectiveness of aid. One of the effects of long-term aid dependency is that it undermines the accountability of governments to their citizens, a precondition for better governance. While there may be no easy prescriptions for better governance, there are factors that can strengthen the responsiveness of states to the needs of their citizens. Tax is now widely considered to be one such factor.

The International Centre for Taxation and Development (ICTD) is a new five-year research programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Norwegian Agency  for Development Cooperation (NORAD) which aims to mobilise knowledge that will help make taxation policies more conducive to pro-poor economic growth and good governance. The Centre's belief is that better tax systems lead to better governments, better state-society interaction and better development outcomes.

Listen to the Centre's Director Professor Mick Moore talking about the new Centre.

To find out more about ICTD contact Adam Randon, the Centre's Programme Manager.

Reporting tax research

In November 2009, researchers from the Centre for the Future State, also based at IDS, co-hosted a workshop on taxation and development for researchers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and journalists delivered by Panos Relay, a media and research communication programme.

Reporting Tax Research is a newly published case study that describes some of the methods and activities developed by Panos Relay and how they were applied in Kenya to the issue of tax and governance. It offers a detailed and descriptive account of Relay's series of workshop sessions, in particular. In doing so, it attempts to shed some light on practical ways to:

  • build the skills of journalists to use research to create stories for
    their audiences
  • build the skills of researchers to communicate their findings to the media
  • build relationships between research, media and civil society actors.

The case study also looks at the results of these activities, and what might be achieved with further investment in and support for journalists and researchers in Kenya. The outcomes of this case study give some indication of what could be achieved in other country contexts, where media and political environments may differ.