PREM Notes

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This note series is intended to summarize good practices and key policy findings on poverty reduction and economic management (PREM) topics.

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    Strengthening Peru's Tax Agency
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-11) Taliercio, Robert ; Engelschalk, Michael
    The reforms were remarkably successful: by 1997 internal tax revenue had recovered to 13 percent of GDP-despite an extremely difficult political and economic environment-and 90 percent of large corporate taxpayers surveyed believed that taxpayer services had improved. The reforms had several key elements: granting the National Tax Administration Superintendency (SUNAT) meaningful administrative and financial autonomy, implementing radical personnel reform, investing in infrastructure and information technology, and generating public support. The reforms also forged a new relationship between taxpayers and the tax agency and committed to improving services. At the same time, the agency made clear its intention to enforce compliance with the tax code. SUNAT's experience offers several lessons for tax administration reform in other countries. First, the immediate efficacy of SUNAT as a semiautonomous revenue authority was due to a combination of several factors, perhaps the most important of which was a coupling of political leadership with managerial expertise. But Peru's experience also highlights pitfalls to avoid for other countries engaging in tax administration reform.
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    Computerizing Tax and Customs Administrations
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-10) Engelschalk, Michael ; Melhem, Samia ; Weist, Dana
    Computerization is an important part of World Bank tax and customs projects. Revenue administration computerization projects should be seen in the broader context of public sector reforms. They touch on issues such as the government's overall strategy for information technology, the revenue agency's autonomy in maintaining information technology systems, civil service laws and procurement policies, and communication and cooperation among government agencies. Drawing on completed and ongoing projects -- especially the Philippines Tax Computerization Project -- this note offers recommendations for project design and implementation.
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    An Anticorruption Strategy for Revenue Administration
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 1999-10) Das-Gupta, Arindam ; Engelschalk, Michael ; Mayville, William
    The World Bank defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain. Corrupt actions include the unilateral theft of public property by its steward and multi-party transactions in which beneficiaries bribe officials. Corruption can exist at all levels of public administration--from the highest officeholder to the lowest functionary. Because tax and customs administration often figure among the corrupt government agencies in developing countries, Bank projects that reform these administrations should include anti-corruption efforts. Any strategy to combat corruption must limit the motives and opportunities for public officeholders to abuse their positions. This should be done directly for unilateral corruption, while for multi-party corruption it can also be done indirectly by focusing on the supply side of bribes. Although we do not know enough to identify optimal anti-corruption strategies for different country situations, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Various elements from the menu of possibilities must be integrated into a coherent package. The Bank's approach in this area, outlined in this report, is in broad agreement with that of the International Monetary Fund. This report examines the motives and opportunities for corruption, and discusses incorporating strategies in reform projects, current country approaches, and lessons learned from experience.