By Antonio Savoia, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester; Roberto Ricciuti, University of Verona and CESifo; and Kunal Sen, UNU-WIDER and Global Development Institute, University of Manchester
The capability to raise revenues from taxes – often called fiscal capacity – is a crucial aspect for the functioning of every state, particularly in developing countries. Two reasons account for this. First, greater fiscal capacity is fundamentally important for state formation, as it is usually associated with the creation of a civilian bureaucracy that can itself provide an enabling environment for the consolidation of statehood. Second, greater fiscal capacity implies greater access to resources needed to provide public goods. Developing countries are only able to raise a small share of taxes over GDP compared to advanced economies. They need higher revenues to invest in a number of economic and social areas that are crucial for their growth, such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. This is also relevant to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, an ambitious enterprise requiring far greater resources. Indeed, SDG 17 explicitly refers to the mobilisation of government revenues (Target 17.1).