Middle East and Central Asia > Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of

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Ms. Genevieve Verdier, Brett Rayner, Ms. Priscilla S Muthoora, Charles Vellutini, Ling Zhu, Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan, Alireza Marahel, Mahmoud Harb, Imen Benmohamed, Mr. Shafik Hebous, Andrew Okello, Nathalie Reyes, Thomas Benninger, and Bernard Sanya
Domestic revenue mobilization has been a longstanding challenge for countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. Insufficient revenue has often constrained priority social and infrastructure spending, reducing countries’ ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, improve growth prospects, and address climate related challenges. Moreover, revenue shortfalls have often been compensated by large and sustained debt accumulation, raising vulnerabilities in some countries, and limiting fiscal space to address future shocks. The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have compounded challenges to sustainable public finances, underscoring the need for revenue mobilization efforts. The recent global crises have also exacerbated existing societal inequalities and highlighted the importance of raising revenues in an efficient and equitable manner. This paper examines the scope for additional tax revenue mobilization and discusses policies to gradually raise tax revenue while supporting resilient growth and inclusion in the Middle East and Central Asia. The paper’s main findings are that excluding hydrocarbon revenues, the region’s average tax intake lags those of other regions; the region’s fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS) face particular challenges in mobilizing tax revenue; In general, there is considerable scope to raise additional tax revenue; countries have made efforts to raise tax collection, but challenges remain; tax policy design, notably low tax rates and pervasive tax exemptions, is an important factor driving tax revenue shortfalls; weak tax compliance, reflecting both structural features and challenges in revenue administration, also plays a role; and personal income tax systems in the region vary in their progressivity—the extent to which the average tax rate increases with income—and in their ability to redistribute income. These findings provide insights for policy action to raise revenue while supporting resilient growth and inclusion. The paper’s analysis points to these priorities for the region to improve both efficiency and equity of tax systems: improving tax policy design to broaden the tax base and increase progressivity and redistributive capacity; strengthening revenue administration to improve compliance; and implementing structural reforms to incentivize tax compliance, formalization, and economic diversification.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

As in other regions in the world, countries in MENAP and CCA regions are exposed to tightening in global financing conditions and ongoing global trade tensions. The former has already begun to impact several emerging market economies in MENAP and could have more severe implications should financial market sentiment suddenly deteriorate. Escalating global trade tensions will have a limited direct and immediate impact on these regions but could impart significant strains over time through negative effects on trading partners and through market confidence effects.

Mr. Philip Barrett
I use a monthly panel of provincially-collected central government revenues and conflict fatalities to estimate government revenues lost due to conflict in Afghanistan since 2005. I identify causal effects by instrumenting for conflict using pre-sample ethno-linguistic share. Headline estimates are very large, implying total revenue losses since 2005 of $3bn, and future revenue gains from peace of about 6 percent of GDP per year. Reduced collection efficiency, rather than lower economic activity, appears to be the key channel. OLS estimates understate the causal effect by a factor of four. Comparing to estimates from Powell’s (2017) generalized synthetic control method suggests that this bias results from omitted variables and measurement error in equal share. The findings underscore the considerable economic loss due to conflict, and the importance of careful identification in measuring this loss.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
This report reviews the IMF’s effort to build fiscal capacity in fragile states. It presents case studies on IMF technical assistance (TA) and capacity development in the fiscal area, provided by its Fiscal Affairs Department in collaboration with the Legal Department, in countries including Afghanistan, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Mali, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste. The details in the case studies in various areas of fiscal policy management shed light on country-specific characteristics, how well IMF TA helped countries address fiscal capacity in the past, and lessons learned that could improve TA strategies and delivery in the future.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses economic developments, outlooks, and risks in Afghanistan. The economy is in difficultly. Deepening uncertainty about the political transition following the 2014 presidential election, corruption and weak governance, and a weakening security environment have complicated the implementation of reforms, undermined confidence and economic activity, and contributed to increased emigration. The overall budget had a deficit in 2015 as a shortfall in grants more than offset higher-than-projected revenue and lower spending. The trade deficit remained large, but substantial inflows of foreign aid kept the current account in surplus. The financial sector remains fragile and plays a limited intermediation role.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Afghanistan remains a poor fragile state that is far from self-reliance. Significant fiscal and banking vulnerabilities emerged in 2014. Domestic revenue collection fell below its 2013 level because of lower growth, declining imports, and lower compliance, while operating expenditure increased. The treasury cash balance fell to dangerously low levels in the second half of 2014, and domestic payment arrears and unfunded allotments emerged. The future path of the economy is highly dependent on the authorities’ delivering on their economic reform commitments, continued donor support, and improvements in security.
Mr. Serhan Cevik and John Ricco
This paper provides an empirical analysis of how the frequency and severity of terrorism affect government revenue and expenditure during the period 1970–2013 using a panel dataset on 153 countries. We find that terrorism has only a marginal negative effect on tax revenue performance, after controlling for economic and institutional factors. This effect is also not robust to alternative specifications and empirical strategies. On the other hand, we find strong evidence that terrorism is associated with an increase in military spending as a percent of GDP (and a share of total government expenditure). Our estimations reveal that this impact is greater when terrorist attacks are frequent and result in a large number of fatalities. Empirical findings also support the view that public finances in developing and low-income countries are more vulnerable to terrorism than those in countries that are richer and diversified.
International Monetary Fund
On February 24, 2012, the Executive Board approved a partial distribution of the general reserve equivalent to SDR 700 million attributed to part of the gold sales windfall profits to all members in proportion to their quotas.
International Monetary Fund
This report is a detailed assessment on antimoney laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it is still at an early stage of developing its legal and institutional framework. Even though measures have been taken to fight crime and to lay the foundations for an AML/CFT regime, current efforts are not sufficient to deal with high risk of money laundering and terrorist financing in the country.