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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

mountain road

The Road to Universal Health Coverage in the Eastern Mediterranean Will Be Paved with Tough Policy Choices

In a meeting in Salalah, Oman earlier this month, representatives (including ministers of health) of 22 countries in the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean region reaffirmed their commitment to universal health coverage (UHC) by signing the UHC 2030 Global Compact, making the Eastern Mediterranean the first WHO region to do so. These countries are now obligated to accelerate their progress towards UHC, which is also a Sustainable Development Goal target.

Figure 1: Tax Expenditure as a % of GDP

Time to Pay More Attention to Tax Expenditures?

It is time that donors and technical assistance providers turn their attention to tax concessions provided by developing countries struggling to raise more taxes from domestic sources. The granting of tax concessions is not only mostly opaque and prone to corruption, but these concessions are further constricting the already narrow tax base of countries, thereby undermining the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to promote domestic resource mobilization. There is a risk that additional revenues collected through tax reforms may be lost through tax concessions.

Stock photo of various currencies

Merely Collecting More Taxes Is Not Enough to Achieve the SDGs

In development circles these days, there is considerable emphasis on developing countries collecting more taxes domestically to help achieve the SDGs. But with this attention to domestic resource mobilization, we shouldn’t lose sight of a critical point: collecting more taxes will only advance the SDGs if the revenues are spent efficiently.

On the Equity-Friendly Property Tax: Time for Developing Countries to Invest?

A large proportion of revenue gains over the last two decades has come from countries’ efforts to improve the design and compliance of consumption and other indirect taxes, particularly the VAT (value-added tax); in doing so, the objective has been to  minimize VAT’s regressive effects by exempting sales of small businesses below a threshold (where the poor typically tend to buy) as well as imposing zero tax on certain food and other products which take up a large proportion of consumption of poor households. Less attention has gone to expanding the coverage of potentially more progressive taxes, such as personal income and property taxes.