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Mr. Eric Le Borgne and Ms. Katherine Baer

Abstract

Tax amnesties remain as popular as ever as a tool for raising revenue and increasing tax compliance. International experience, however, shows that the costs of tax amnesty programs often exceed the programs’ benefits. This paper weighs the advantages and disadvantages of tax amnesties, drawing on results from the theoretical literature, econometric evidence, and selected country and U.S. state case studies. The authors conclude that “successful” tax amnesties are the exception rather than the norm. Improvements in tax administration are the essential ingredient in addressing the main problems that tax amnesties seek to address. Indeed, the most successful amnesty programs rely on improving the tax administration’s enforcement capacity. ?Given the potential drawbacks of tax amnesties, a few alternative measures are discussed.

Mr. Sumio Ishikawa, Ms. Sibel Beadle, Mr. Damien Eastman, Ms. Srobona Mitra, Mr. Alejandro Lopez Mejia, Ms. Wafa F Abdelati, Mr. Koji Nakamura, Mr. Il Houng Lee, Ms. Sònia Muñoz, Mr. Robert P. Hagemann, Mr. David T. Coe, and Ms. Nadia Rendak

Abstract

Cambodia's reconstruction and reform efforts have spanned almost 25 years following the Khmer Rouge period, which ended in 1979. Economic reforms began in earnest in the early 1990s, but reform efforts were beset by ongoing internal tensions and civil unrest. Although external factors, including sizable aid inflows and a trade agreement with the United States, helped boost growth in the past decade, the country remains one of the poorest in the region. The current coalition government has announced a strategy aimed at revitalizing economic reforms, and in 2004 Cambodia formally joined the World Trade Organization. But elimination of the garment quota system under the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing is exposing an underlying deterioration in competitiveness, which, coupled with slow growth in the agriculture sector and other structural obstacles to private sector growth, has resulted in a medium-term outlook that remains uncertain.

Mr. Christian H. Beddies, Mr. Enrique A Gelbard, Mr. James McHugh, Ms. Laure Redifer, and Mr. Garbis Iradian

Abstract

Since 2000, Armenia's economic performance has been remarkable. Real economic growth has averaged 11 percent a year, annual inflation has averaged 3 percent, and poverty and inequality have fallen. The country has outperformed other low-income countries including other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. This is particularly impressive given the geographical location of Armenia, the closure of two critical borders, and occasional political turmoil. The key factors behind Armenia's economic performance are prudent monetary and fiscal policies, liberal trade and foreign exchange regimes, rapid and relaively well-sequenced structural reforms, and support from the Armenian diaspora. In addition, the implementation of a poverty reduction strategy since 2002 has complemented the effect of economic growth on reducing poverty. This book assesses the country's economic transformation during the last 10 years and discusses the challenges to sustaining these successes.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Yongzheng Yang

Abstract

In recent years, African policymakers have increasingly resorted to regional trade arrangements (RTAs) as a substitute for broad-based trade liberalization. This trend has long-term implications for the effectiveness of trade policy as a tool for poverty reduction and growth. This paper examines the record of RTAs in promoting trade and investment. It also explores policy measures that may help improve RTAs' performance.

Mr. Michael Keen

Abstract

This paper, based on the considerable practical experience of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, sets out a successful strategy for modernizing customs administration. The essence is to establish transparent and simple rules and procedures, and to foster voluntary compliance by building a system of self-assessment supported by well-designed audit policies. Having set out this strategy--and its benefits--the paper discusses in depth what is required in terms of trade policy, valuation procedures, dealing with duty reliefs and exemptions, controlling transit movements, organizational reform, use of new technologies, private sector involvement, and designing incentive systems for an effective customs administration.