Five years have passed since the launch of the Addis Tax Initiative (ATI) in 2015. The ATI was initiated in the course of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which represented a fundamental shift from the 2002 Monterrey Consensus and moved towards a broader and more comprehensive approach for financing sustainable development. On this basis, the ATI has been founded as a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to enhance domestic revenue mobilisation (DRM) in partner countries in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). Committing to the ATI fosters partner countries’ efforts to increase reliance on domestic revenue to fund their development agenda and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Over the last five years, the ATI has evolved into an increasingly important player in the field of tax and development. To date, 20 development partners and 25 partner countries have signed up to a joint agenda consisting of three commitments to be achieved by 2020. While ATI development partners have committed to double technical development cooperation to DRM by 2020, ATI partner countries have committed to step up DRM as a key requirement for spurring inclusive development. Additionally, ATI development partners and partner countries alike have committed to pursue policy coherence for development. 16 supporting organisations have endorsed the ATI’s objectives and contribute to the initiative by exchanging experiences and best practices, reporting on progress from capacity building activities, and being part of a large network of stakeholders from the tax and development arena.
The ATI has not only served as a platform for peer learning and exchanges of experiences among its members, but it has also contributed significantly to enhancing donor coordination in the field of tax and development. It has enabled partner countries to voice priorities and needs in the area of DRM in global discussions and set the political agenda to increase the salience of DRM. Most notably, development partners committing to double their DRM-related efforts until 2020 serves as an important reference point in policy discussions, creating peer pressure and helping donor agencies to attach priority to the issue in their budgeting processes. In fact, from 2015 to 2017, commitments for DRM have increased by approximately 37 percent and disbursements by 16 percent. Collectively, circa 256 million USD were committed, and almost 259 million USD disbursed in 2017. As highlighted in the upcoming 2018 ATI Monitoring Report, this increased notably again for 2018, reaching a total of almost 535 million USD in commitments and 372.5 million USD in disbursements (preliminary data in current prices).
Another success story within the ATI is the establishment of the ATI Consultative Groups in 2018. Created with the aim of organising and executing activities to support the fulfilment of the three ATI commitments, they have successfully brought about numerous outputs. For instance, ATI Consultative Group 1 commissioned a study on donor coordination in DRM, which considered ownership, alignment and harmonisation issues at the international and country levels, explored how to measure results, and recommended potential solutions. ATI Consultative Group 2 developed the set of indicators used today for monitoring the progress of the partner countries towards ATI Commitment 2, which accounts for transparency, effectiveness, equity and fairness dimensions of tax systems. Lastly, ATI Consultative Group 3 was involved in the upcoming publication of a brief on perspectives from partner countries in designing tax incentive regimes and the conceptualisation of two webinar series – one on equitable taxation and the other one on tax expenditures – that will take place in fall 2020 in collaboration Oxfam International, Development Finance International and the International Budget Partnership (IBP).
The two ATI/ITC Tax and Development Conferences that took place in 2017 and 2019 provided a neutral setting for broad-based discussions on topics related to tax and development, while setting the focus on the needs and priorities of partner countries. Participants had the opportunity to learn about issues faced by partner countries, development partners and relevant organisations, to benefit from the sharing of experiences, and to identify opportunities for collaboration and synergies in this field. In addition, the ATI held various side events since 2015, most notably at the Fifth General Assembly of the African Tax Administration Forum in Botswana, which promoted dialogue on how the ATI can contribute to enhance DRM in Africa, or at the West African Tax Administration Forum’s 15th General Assembly in The Gambia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of raising domestic revenues in order to finance effective government response and counterbalance its economic, financial and social impacts. Against this backdrop, the Task Force spearheading the conceptualisation of the initiative’s new phase is building on the progress achieved in the past five years when drafting the ATI post-2020 Declaration. The new ATI Declaration, which will be endorsed by the ATI members at the virtual ATI General Assembly in winter 2020, will mark an important milestone in tax and development by reinforcing and renewing momentum towards financing the SDGs.
For further information on the ATI and if you are interested in becoming a member, please contact the ITC Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org).