The Politics of Taxation and Implications for Accountability in Ghana 1981-2008
Author: Wilson Prichard
Size: 47 pages (401kB)
Is a government that relies on tax revenue, as opposed to natural resources or foreign aid, more likely to be accountable to its citizens? Have government efforts to raise taxes in Ghana produced successful demands for greater accountability? This paper examines the evolution and political dynamics of Ghana's central government tax system. It finds that taxation has often catalysed demands for greater accountability, but that outcomes have varied. State-society bargaining over taxation seems to be shaped by the broader state of politics, the role of elites, the mobilising capacity of civil society, the motives for the tax increase and the type of tax in question.
At the beginning of the 1980s the Ghanaian state and economy were in crisis. Since 1983, Ghana has experienced the most dramatic and prolonged improvement in tax collection of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. It is an ideal candidate for observing political responses to taxation.
Evidence from Ghana shows that the relationship between taxation and accountability varies dramatically based contingent factors. These include: the broader state of politics, the role of elites, the mobilising capacity of civil society, motives for the tax increase and the type of tax in question.
The example of Ghana shows that the dynamics surrounding taxation are profoundly linked to the state of politics more generally. The challenge of raising tax revenue has forced processes of implicit and explicit bargaining between state and society. This has been an important factor in causing political change.
Prichard, W., 2009, 'The Politics of Taxation and Implications for Accountability in Ghana 1981-2008', IDS Working Paper 330, Centre for the Future State, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton
Author: Wilson Prichard , wilson.prichard[at]utoronto.ca
Organisation: Institute of Development Studies , http://www.ids.ac.uk