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Law and Regulation

World Bank Helps With Flood Recovery Efforts in Serbia

Laura Tuck's picture

Laura Tuck, Vice President for the Europe and Central Asia region for the World Bank, discusses the World Bank's role in assisting Serbia with recovery and reconstruction following recent floods, and other economic reforms in the country.

In Armenia, Perception Matters For Tax Reforms

Jean-Michel Happi's picture

Would you be more willing to pay taxes if you didn’t have to spend hours doing it, or if you see that money being used in the right way? Well, you are not alone.
 
Armenians, like people around the world, feel the same. According to the recently conducted Tax Perception Survey in the country, easier tax compliance and more visible link between taxes paid and public services received was found to be particularly important.


















Between 66 percent and 75 percent of respondents said they would be more willing to pay more taxes if the procedures were easy and less time-consuming, if they saw more useful social and other public services, or if they saw less corruption.

Over 95 percent of respondents felt the tax burden is heavy or very heavy, while almost 50 percent reported that evading tax payments was not justified under any circumstances.
 
About 57 percent noted that high taxes or desperate financial situations were the main reasons for avoiding or evading tax payments.
 
The data unveiled by the latest Tax Perception Survey,  carried out with USAID support and World Bank Group technical assistance covered around 1,500 households and 400 business taxpayers.  The analysis strengthened the need to modernize the tax system, which has remained a major challenge for Armenia. Despite Armenia’s ranking as 37th in Doing Business, the taxation system, at 103rd on the list, still requires a lot of work.
 
To be sure, there have been some improvements to the system in the past few years. They include the introduction of electronic filing of tax returns, e-government applications, risk-based audit principles, and taxpayer service centers and appeal system. These achievements contributed to increasing the tax to GDP ratio from 19.5 percent in 2010 to 22.8 percent in 2013.
 
But much remains to be done to further streamline and simplify tax procedures, modernize the tax administration, and enact a tax code.

President Kim on Discrimination’s Hefty Human and Economic Costs

Elizabeth Howton's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | العربية

Jim Yong Kim knows something about prejudice. When he was growing up Asian American in Iowa, kids would make “kung fu” gestures and hurl racial slurs at him. In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, the World Bank Group president writes that his experiences are “trifling indignities” compared to what gay and lesbian citizens of Uganda and Nigeria are now experiencing, in the wake of new laws making homosexuality a crime punishable by up to life in prison.

Institutionalized discrimination goes far beyond those countries, he notes; 81 other countries also criminalize homosexuality. It also goes beyond sexual orientation to encompass laws that discriminate against women and members of minority groups. And aside from being wrong, Kim writes, “Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.”

He points out the irony that AIDS activists, many of them gay, fought to ensure access to life-saving drugs for people with AIDS, most of them African. Kim concludes, “Eliminating discrimination is not only the right thing to do; it’s also critical to ensure that we have sustained, balanced, and inclusive economic growth in all societies.”

Read the full op-ed here.

Tax Lessons From Peers

Munawer Sultan Khwaja's picture

Read the first of this two-part blog post here.

The idea of a peer learning network for tax administrators came when I realized that tax authorities in different countries had many of the same questions: How do we initiate risk management? How are other countries dealing with compliance issues? How do countries ensure speedy VAT refunds and yet prevent fraudulent claims? And so on.

So why not get the tax officials from different countries together and provide a platform to discuss their challenges, experiences and innovative ways of solving problems. Mix them with a dose of tax experts from developed tax systems, et voila! That’s how TAXGIP (Tax Administrators eXchange for Global Innovative Practices) was born – it provides opportunities to exchange knowledge and good practices, and share experiences.
 

Celebrating 25 Years of the Montreal Protocol - and Looking Ahead

Rachel Kyte's picture

Ozone depletion reached its highest level in 2006, NASA monitoring found.
The world’s leaders set a high bar when they adopted the Montreal Protocol, which has helped protect the Earth’s protective ozone layer for the last 25 years. Even with its ambitious goals, the treaty won universal ratification – 197 parties have agreed to legally binding reduction targets to phase out ozone-depleting gases, and they have stuck to them.

 

The result: we, as a global community, have almost completely phased out the use of 97 substances that were depleting the ozone layer.

 

It’s a success worth celebrating, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We phased out CFCs, once used for cooling most refrigerators on the planet, but some of their replacement gases have become a climate change problem we still have to contend with.

Putting Nature at the Heart of Economic Decisions

Rachel Kyte's picture

Read this post in Français

To put nature at the heart of economic decisions, government, the private sector & the conservation community must reach across the aisle.

Look around the world, and you’ll see abundant reasons to worry about nature and its capacity to sustain us. Over 60 percent of ecosystems are in worse shape now than 50 years ago; 85 percent of ocean fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted; half of all wetlands have been destroyed since 1900; and climate change is changing everything.

But at the same time, if you look carefully, there are reasons for cautious optimism.

In Somaliland, Political Legitimacy Comes from Contributing to Peace

Caroline Rusten's picture

"I am selling my ears" (Dhagahaan iibinayaa), Abdillahi says, laughing.

The sharp light glimmers through the small opening in the tinted window, the wind is audible. It is early morning in Hargeisa, the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland, occupying the north-western territory of what the international community defines as Somalia. Somalia and Somaliland could not be further apart in conflict resolution experience and relative stability.

Abdillahi is still looking at me, his smile widens, his eyes sparkle. Chuckling, he leans towards me to emphasize his point. He had been telling me about the peace conference between the Somaliland clans in Borama in 1993, and had interrupted himself with the expression about selling his ears.

"That is what we say today about daily allowances from donors," he explains. "Our society is built on contribution, people here gets legitimacy through contribution.

Balancing individual and corporate accountability for corruption

Recently, many in the community concerned about international corruption have begun to discuss the need to hold individuals responsible criminally for their actions.  While people have long discussed the failure to hold high-profile bribe recipients responsible, now the discussion has mutated to the bribe payer side.  Lower-level targets are certainly more easily prosecuted than the rich and powerful.  After all, corruption, like most crimes, is committed by people, not by companies, machines or cultures.  Some countries, most notable the U.S., have brought an increasing number of cases against individuals directly involved in paying or authorizing bribes.

If money is the root of evil, are developed countries doing enough about the problem of bribes paid in the developing world?

It is a fact that many of the countries which suffer the most from corruption are the countries which have the fewest resources to combat the problem.  Poor countries may be faced with a dilemma of using resources to prosecute the corruption which degrades the quality and quantity of public goods that reach their citizens, or using resources to provide those basic goods, such as food aid and roads.

At the same time, larger bribes are not infrequently paid by outsiders, such as foreign corporations.  Casual observation shows that funds must be coming from outside some of the poorest countries.  In short, the bribe money is flowing from the developed world into the developing world.  

Timely information to meet enforcement deadlines: How can we meet the standards?

Simon Robertson's picture

I would like to follow up on Paul’s interesting comments on information sharing and the need in particular for timeliness.  He raises a number of issues on when to share information and this is where I would like to come in.  My background relies on information sharing across disciplines, be they units in the Bank or wider afield to other agencies such as Multi Lateral Development Banks (MDB) with their own integrity/investigations function or to law enforcement.  And herein lies the difference between information managed by law enforcement when compared to that of the development community.  In our search for timeliness – often a crucial issue for law enforcement it is not so for the development community, and in some ways this is essential as it allows us to first evaluate the reliability of the source of the information and then question the validity of the information.  One may ask why we should do this, and the simple answer is – we must be able to satisfy ourselves that we have undertaken our own due diligence and are confident that the information we are providing will add value to the enforcement entity with whom we share the information.  For instance we may find that after questioning the source of the data we ascertain that the information is not known directly to the source it is in fact a regurgitation of information relayed to him/her by someone else – and therefore while our source may be good the validity of our information could be questioned.

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