International Conference on Taxation and Development

IPS together with the International Centre for Tax and Development, UK, organized an International Conference on Taxation and Development under the theme ‘Pulling Ourselves Up: Taxation, State-Building, and Away from Aid’ during the 3rd and 4th November 2011 at the Ceylon Continental Hotel. The Inland Revenue Department (IRD), Sri Lanka Institute of Taxation, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) were partner organizations in this Conference.

While seminars and discussions on taxation matters are ubiquitous in Colombo, particularly in the pre-and post-Budget period each year, the key value addition of this conference was that the Sri Lankan audience gained exposure to the latest thinking on taxation issues from tax practitioners and experts in developing economies, which Sri Lanka can relate to. Uniquely, the international resource persons for this conference were drawn from African countries, including Allen Kagina, Director General of the Uganda Tax Authority, Aiden Keanly, Director International Relations of the South Africa Revenue Service, and Attiya Waris of the African Tax Justice Network. The conference explored the political-economy of taxation, exposing the Sri Lankan audience, particularly stakeholders in the taxation arena, to the new thinking on the link between taxation/government revenue and governance and development. It also explored the African successes in taxation and tax administration, and options and strategies for greater domestic revenue mobilization in Sri Lanka in the context of the country needing to move away from dependence on foreign aid.

The thematic areas of the conference sessions were: ‘Global Views on Taxation, Governance, and Development’; ‘Taxation to Support Post-war Growth: Emerging Challenges for Sri Lanka’; ‘Tax Incentives for Investment: Making it Cost-effective and Competitive’; ‘An All-round Tax Success: The South African Story’; ‘Tax Administration Reform’; and ‘Decentralized Revenue Mobilization: Challenges and Opportunities’. The final session was a ‘Talking Economics’ Open Forum on ‘Taxation Matters for Everyone: The Challenge of Inclusive Tax Policy-making’.

The opening ceremony of the conference saw the attendance of Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation and Hon. D.E.W. Gunasekera, Hon. Senior Minister for Human Resources. Participants included IRD officials, tax experts, economists, researchers, private sector professionals, government officials, and leaders of business councils/chambers of commerce, journalists, and representatives from relevant civil society organizations.