A technical follow-up meeting on tax expenditures for West Africa

From 18-20 September 2023, 60 participants from 12 countries took a technical deep dive into specific topics related to tax expenditures, with a focus on West Africa.

Read the full report here

Accra recently hosted a regional technical meeting on tax expenditures (TEs), which gathered international and regional tax experts. Over two and a half days, 60 participants from 12 countries came together to discuss benchmarking, estimation, and evaluation of TEs combined with a practical approach, all while fostering the regional network of experts in this field.

The roots of this technical meeting trace back to the first ATI regional workshop on tax expenditures in Lagos, Nigeria, organised by the Addis Tax Initiative (ATI) in cooperation with the Council on Economic Policies (CEP) and the German Institute for Development and Sustainability (IDOS) in July 2022.The initial meeting aimed at providing a platform for the exchange of best practices on tax expenditures, outlining pathways for tax reform, and initiating regional networks of tax expenditure experts for continued exchange and peer support. 

Participants from Benin, Liberia, and Ghana, ATI partner countries in the region, set the stage by providing insights into the latest developments in the field of TEs since the previous workshop on tax expenditures in Lagos. Breakout sessions for parliamentarians were organised to explore the political economy of tax expenditure governance and their role in the evaluation of TEs, while stakeholders from ministries of finance and revenue authorities engaged in technical discussions and practical exercises regarding methodologies for tax estimation, reporting, and evaluation.

Familiarity within the network played a vital role, as many participants were already acquainted from the Lagos meeting. These connections were further solidified, resulting in lively and engaged contributions to the workshop. The ATI celebrates the progress made in the realm of tax expenditures as well as the flourishing of regional networks of experts in the field.

Accra WS TEs
Participants engage in the discussions over the course of the ATI Follow-up Technical Meeting in Accra

Purpose of the series

The main objectives of the series of technical follow-up meetings are twofold. First, it aims to facilitate a more in-depth technical exploration of the various stages of the tax expenditure policy cycle, ranging from establishing a benchmark, to data requirements for estimation and evaluation of TEs, and ultimately the reform process. Second, it seeks to consolidate the regional networks initiated in the previous year.

Reaching these two objectives represents a significant step in supporting the commitments of the ATI Declaration 2025, and Commitment 3 in particular. This also contributes to the ATI mission of promoting fair, transparent, and effective tax systems, advancing the Sustainable Development Goals, and facilitating the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

After the successful workshop in Lagos in July 2022, the ATI together with its partners CEP and IDOS undertook similar workshops in the regions of East Africa and Asia. In total, the first workshop series reached more than 130 participants from over 30 countries.

I have enjoyed the exchange of ideas, learning amongst our peers, and working together. participant workshop quoteAnd going back to my work carrying the knowledge of the network and what I have learned in the workshop.

Idrissa Kanu

Director of Revenue and Tax Policy | Ministry of Finance Sierra Leone.

Next steps

Positive feedback was received after the technical meeting through an evaluation survey. Demand for a deeper discussion on tax expenditures was high, and the format of the technical meeting was well-received. Concrete action points were discussed, focusing on refining knowledge and practices related to TEs governance, reporting, estimation, and evaluation. The ATI remains committed to supporting partner countries in increasing transparency around TEs by facilitating access to a broad network of development partners and supporting organisations that can offer bilateral tailored support.

The ATI is organising technical follow-up meetings on tax expenditures for East Africa in December 2023 and Asia in early 2024. These meetings will constitute a continuation of the first ATI workshops on tax expenditures for these regions in Nairobi and Manila, respectively.