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Tax treaties: Boost or bane for development?

Jim Brumby's picture
  Tax treaties are like a bathtub; a single leaky one is a drain on a country’s revenues.  Photo: Kris Schroeder 


Tax officials and experts grappled with the issue of tax treaties several weeks ago at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings. This arcane subject has now emerged as a new lightning rod in the debate on fairness in international taxation. As citizens demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and some governments struggle to raise enough revenues for basic services, tax treaties present difficult issues.

Strengthening governance through the World Bank’s Fund for the 77 poorest countries

Deborah Wetzel's picture
Photo credit: Graham Crouch/World Bank

In my blog “The Governance Gap – can we bridge it?”, I stressed that strengthened institutions and improved governance are especially critical for the world’s most vulnerable countries in IDA, the World Bank’s Fund for the 77 poorest countries.

IDA is the single largest source of funds for basic social services for these governments and every three years, members representing IDA’s 173 donor and borrowing member countries meet to replenish its resources and refine its priorities.

The Governance Gap: Can we bridge it?

Deborah Wetzel's picture
Graphic by Nicholas Nam/World Bank

If you’re like me, just watching TV or picking up the paper is a constant reminder of issues related to “governance,” and that’s not just because it’s also my job.
 
People are not happy with the state of their governments these days. Distrust is running high; fiscal pressures are mounting; service delivery doesn’t reach the poorest people; corruption scandals abound and conflict seems on the rise.
 
The World Bank’s latest country surveys that polled around 9,000 opinion leaders in 40 of our client countries says that public sector governance has risen to the top of countries’ policy priorities. The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that more than half of the global population expresses distrust in government institutions.

Five tools for capturing, manipulating, and visualizing data

Daniel Nogueira-Budny's picture
Data Literacy Bootcamp in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Usman Khaliq, iDT Labs


Increasing evidence suggests that, to improve accountability and promote evidence-based decision making, open access to data and data literacy skills are essential. While in-person educational opportunities can be limited in parts of the developing world, free educational tools are available online to boost data literacy skills.
 
In June 2016, Code for Africa, with support from the World Bank’s Open Government Global Solutions Group, held a Data Literacy Bootcamp in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for 55 participants, including journalists, civil society members, and private and public sector representatives. One of the Bootcamp’s primary objectives was to build data literacy skills to nurture the homegrown development of information and communication technologies (ICT) solutions to development problems.
 
Here are five tools Bootcamp participants employed to help capture, manipulate, and visualize data:

Resolving disputes, avoiding litigation in India

Shanker Lal's picture
An overhaul of Dispute Boards looks to prevent delays in the creation of new infrastructure, such as the construction of roads and railways.
Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

A significant percentage of government spending in India goes towards the creation of new infrastructure like the construction of roads, ports, railways and power plants. Construction contracts, however, often have a reputation for disputes and conflicts between contractors and governments. Such disputes ultimately delay implementation of the contracts and increase total costs, adversely impacting development outcomes of the projects.

Many countries have found that Dispute Boards offer an effective mechanism for resolving these issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. These boards, composed of one to three members, are set up upon commencement of a contract and help the involved parties avoid or overcome disagreements or disputes that arise during the contract’s implementation. The boards are less legalistic, less adversarial, less time consuming and less costly than options for resolving disputes within the legal system, including arbitration and litigation.

A 2004 study (PDF) shows that Dispute Boards have been successful in resolving even the most strenuous disputes with an almost 99% success rate. The savings in using these boards are enormous: another study indicates that in almost 10% of projects, between 8% and 10% of the total project cost was legal cost.

​6 things to know about the new World Bank Procurement Framework

Ravi Kumar's picture
Available in ArabicChinese. French and Spanish
School children in Lebanon. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Students in public schools without textbooks at the start of the year. Health centers in villages without even the most basic medications. Oftentimes procurement is to blame.

An efficient procurement system isn't just a good idea, it's a necessary tool for all governments (local and national) to function properly and deliver public services.

Keeping pace with global trends, on July 1 the World Bank will roll out the new Procurement Framework for countries that procure goods and services under Bank-finance projects. The new framework will be implemented for all investment projects with a Project Concept Note on or after July 1, 2016.  Led by the Global Governance Practice (GGP) with support from Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS), the framework is designed to increase flexibility, efficiency, and transparency of procurement process, to better meet the needs of client countries.

So, what will the World Bank's new Procurement Framework do?

Chasing shadows: Tax strategies to tackle the shadow economy

Rajul Awasthi's picture
Digital work by Steve Johnson

Tax administrations in developing countries are increasingly concerned about the persistent problem of loss of tax revenues to the shadow economy, and they often deploy a range of strategies to plug tax leaks and augment revenues. The erosion of the tax base prevents governments from collecting the revenue it needs to provide essential services, such as healthcare, road construction, and education. Nonetheless, it’s a sticky problem: how do you convince business owners to pay taxes?
 
Some possible answers, bolstered by evidence, include: simplify tax payment and provide incentives to formalize businesses. The World Bank’s Governance Global Practice will hold a conference between June 27-29 in St Petersburg, Russia, to bring together participants from almost 25 countries of the Europe and Central Asia region to discuss these issues under the aegis of the Tax Administrators eXchange of Global Innovative Practices, a peer-learning network of tax administrators. The event will be hosted by experts from the Public Sector Performance division of the practice.

Using country procurement systems in China and Vietnam to improve efficiency, transparency and competition

Ba Liu Nguyen's picture
Chongqing, China. Photo: Li Wenyong / World Bank

Procurement is an essential aspect of World Bank operations and international development projects worldwide. The World Bank’s policy on procurement encourages the use of country systems in procurement implementation process while ensuring the consistency with the Bank’s regulations . 

Making procurement information publicly available promotes openness and transparency and creates a level playing field for bidders. This, in turn, fosters competition and potentially decreases corruption risks. 

With this in mind, World Bank teams in East Asia and the Pacific successfully collaborated with government procurement agencies to increase and improve the publication of procurement information and to pilot e-procurement portals for Bank-funded operations. 

The following story shares our experiences and successes in both China and Vietnam. 

All’s fair in love and (the global tax) wars?

Jim Brumby's picture




The mishmash of overlapping and incoherent national tax policies and systems, which together comprise the global tax architecture, used to be a niche topic relegated to the fringes of global policy debates and the domain of a small number of technical experts. But the leak of the “Panama Papers” in April thrust these issues into the spotlight anew.

This added fuel to the fire that was started by the 2012 Amazon and Google cases and subsequent initial high-profile leaks that first brought international tax policy under public and legislative scrutiny. The technicalities of issues such as transfer pricing, offshore financial centers, aggressive tax planning and tax minimization, and illicit financial flows involving public officials have gained the attention of the media and taxpayers around the world.

Imminent! Transformation of the World Bank’s Procurement Framework

Robert Hunja's picture
World Bank. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

In keeping with recent global trends in the procurement arena, the World Bank is transforming and modernizing its procurement framework. 

In the private sector, companies have long viewed maximizing of supply chains as key to healthier bottom lines.  In the public sector, many governments have been moving from overly rule-based procurement systems to systems that focus on performance and achievement of development goals. 

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