Essays on tax, accountability and fiscal capacity in sub-Saharan Africa

Dom, Roel (2019) Essays on tax, accountability and fiscal capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis consists of three self-contained essays exploring the interaction between fiscal capacity and state-building, as well as the impact of external relations on fiscal capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.

The first essay (Chapter 2) explores the links between taxation and accountability improvements. Historical experiences connect taxation with improved government accountability through tax bargaining. However, for contemporary developing countries the validity of this argument is less clear. Using new governance data, I test this hypothesis in a panel of 47 African countries from 1980 until 2015. I show that taxation and accountability are still positively correlated. This effect is mainly driven by direct taxation. Instrumenting tax revenue, with terms of trade and exchange rate shocks, confirms the results. This suggests a causal interpretation for the relationship.

The second essay (Chapter 3) estimates the revenue effect from the introduction of semi-autonomous revenue authorities (SARAs). A major component of international tax reform in sub-Saharan Africa for the last 30 years has been the creation of SARAs. The core argument of this essay is that existing research suggesting diverse and contradictory outcomes has not taken account of trends in revenue performance in the years before the establishment of SARAs. Allowing for this revenue history our analysis based on 46 countries over the period 1980-2015 provides no robust evidence that SARAs induce an increase (or a decrease) in revenue performance.

The third essay (Chapter 4) describes how Burundi used its fiscal policy to counteract the fiscal effects of the suspension of aid. Economic sanctions, and the suspension of budget support in particular, are supposed to pressure target governments to comply with donors' demands by putting spending commitments at risk. The essay argues that this is too simplistic since governments have more fiscal levers at their disposal. Using monthly data on Burundi's fiscal position between 2005 and 2017, the chapter presents evidence from a time series analysis showing that aid does not affect spending because aid shortfalls are compensated with domestic borrowing.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Morrissey, W. Oliver
Neundorf, Anja
Keywords: Taxation, sub-Saharan Africa, sanctions, accountability, fiscal capacity, domestic debt
Subjects: H Social sciences > HJ Public finance
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Economics
Item ID: 56067
Depositing User: Dom, Roel
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2019 08:53
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 13:46

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