Following the Economic Development and Institutions workshop held in Washington DC from April 13-14, 2015, the Center for Effective Global Action hosted a travel grant competition in partnership with Oxford Policy Management to help support formative work on projects further developed during the event. EASST Fellow Alumni, Fredrick Manang was awarded ~$5,000 in research funding for the evaluation, "Tax Compliance: Enforcing the use of electronic fiscal devices (EFDs)".
Manang will partner with the Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA) – Arusha Region, Tanzania to design an evaluation of inspection approaches to improve tax compliance in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Given insufficient domestic revenue generation to support substantial public service delivery needs in developing countries, tax compliance is a key issue with connections to potential economic growth. However, it lacks clear evidence to inform effective policymaking. Manang will identify compliance inspection methods that could improve the legally mandated use of electronic fiscal devices (EFDs). Sellers must use EFDs to track business transactions; EFDs accurately report to the revenue authority the sales tax or Value-Added-Taxes (VAT) due when sellers comply by issuing the mandated receipts. The TRA has already considered carrying out inspections of business entities given the frequency of evasion at the point of sale. The evaluation would measure the effect of random inspections and associated penalty warnings, primarily on the amount of revenue collected as well as the rates of seller-motivated compliance.
To learn more about the EDI program, go here.
The Annual Bank Conference on Africa: Managing the Challenges and Opportunities of Urbanization in Africa took place from June 13-14, 2016 at Oxford University. The original post was submitted to the World Bank Development Impact blog and co-authored by Markus Goldstein and David Evans.
Over the last two days, more than 30 speakers presented research and policy perspectives on “Managing the challenges and opportunities of urbanization in Africa,” as part of the Annual Bank Conference on Africa.
Here is a quick run-down of the ideas presented. We didn’t see every paper, so if you presented your work and it isn’t listed here, please add it in the comments.
In opening remarks, Makhtar Diop (World Bank Vice President for Africa) highlighted both the demographic implications of African cities, with fertility falling more slowly than in other urban areas, and the need for strengthened tax systems to fund the services that cities need (watchable here, starting at 10:07). In the keynote speech, Ed Glaeser from Harvard’s economics department walked us through “The Good and Bad of Cities” (watchable here, starting at 27:43). He taught that African cities can learn more from Latin America’s cities than from China’s, which urbanized very differently; that Google Street View allows a particularly rich measure of urban characteristics in the U.S., but preliminary work in Jakarta suggests lower accuracy (jury is still out on whether it’s usable); and how to deal with the trifecta of density downsides: public management failures (poorly executed projects), political failures (poorly selected projects), and legal failures (unsafe private property). He ended with the stylized fact that in poor countries, people report significantly higher happiness in cities. (This difference drops to zero in rich countries.)
At the end of the conference, Paul Collier asked a panel of policy makers how the research they saw could be more useful to policy. Jennifer Musisi, Executive Director of the Kampala City Authority, pointed out that much of the research fell fall short of actionable policy information, that much of the data she saw was more than ten years old, making it less relevant to current decisions, and that much African data is in disparate locations and needs to be in one place so governments can draw on it. Crispian Olver, former Chief Director for the Reconstruction and Development Programme in the Office of the South African President, highlighted that almost every paper missed the political economy element, “the network of interests and players and interactions between them that dictate the course of events in the system.”
With that in mind, to the research!
Infrastructure, services, markets and well-being
At the end of the conference, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa Albert Zeufack summed up a number of key areas for future research.
All right. Let’s get to it.
EASST visiting fellow alumni, Dr. John Bosco Asiimwe, Dr. Saint Kizito Omala, and Annet Adong, organized a an impact evaluation workshop as part of the Impact Evaluation Learning Series at Makerere University on March 24th 2016. Munshi Sulaiman, Director of Research at BRAC International in Uganda, and Dr. Dickson Malunda, Deputy Country Director of Innovations for Poverty Action, also served as guest lecturers at the workshop, which provided training on casual inferences, counterfactuals, and conductions randomized control trials, and varying experimental methods of impact evaluation and field practice.
Following the workshop, evaluation forms were received from 41 participants. Overall, about half of the surveyed workshop participants strongly believe that: a) the content was accurately described in the invitations, b) the workshop was applicable to the research/job, and c) the material was presented in an organized matter. Over 60% of respondents would strongly agree that 1) they would recommend the workshop to other colleagues, 2) the instructors were knowledgeable on the topic, 3) they are willing to attend a follow up workshop that is more advanced on the subject at hand. And lastly, around 80% strongly urged that the instructors were good communicators, while only 20% highly agree that the program series was placed with the strategic allotted time needed. However, when asked again within a different evaluation, most participants argued that they felt the workshop was at the right length due to the topic (about 56%).