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On September 20th, the ICTD launched the Ethiopian Tax Research Network (ETRN) at the Capital Hotel in Addis Ababa. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ETRN aims to support the generation and exchange of tax knowledge in Ethiopia.

Speaking on behalf of His Excellency Dr Abraham Tekeste, the Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MOFEC), Mezgebu Amha (Director of Fiscal Policy at MOFEC) said “I have no doubt that this forum…will deliver substantial inputs, innovative ideas and practical steps towards enhancing our domestic resource mobilization.”

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He outlined various policy research areas to which the ETRN could contribute, including improving tax administration, enhancing voluntary tax compliance, international tax rules and fiscal incentives, as well as increasing the progressivity of the tax system. He said the research produced by the ETRN would be “of great value” to MOFEC and the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), as the two institutions would be “the major users of the Network outputs.”

He assured the more than 100 attendees at the launch event that MOFEC and ERCA were “determined to work with ICTD and the network management for the success of the ETRN”, as reinforced taxation is key to Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan and achieving the country’s ambition to become a middle-income country by 2025.

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Professor Mick Moore, CEO of the ICTD also made a speech, highlighting the need for expanding the tax base while doing away with “nuisance taxes” that do not generate much revenue but present high compliance costs, as well as focusing on the quality of customer service in tax administration and the opportunity to collect increased revenue through property taxation.

The afternoon featured presentations by researchers from institutions including ERCA, MOFEC, the Ethiopian Development Research Institute, Arba Minch University and Wollega University. The researchers presented on topics ranging from the use of technology in increasing enforcement, to voluntary tax compliance behaviour, and the assignment of revenue from natural resources in Ethiopia (see the full programme here).

As the ICTD Research Director, Dr Giulia Mascagni says, “Much tax expertise already exists within Ethiopia, and the ETRN should help bring people together and develop it further to the benefit of the country.”

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