Lower-income countries have huge financing needs. While tackling the climate challenge and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals require substantial capital investments, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted an urgent need for spending on health and social protection. With the costs of debt rising, how much more tax can developing countries raise has become a key question.

Recent years have seen some highly ambitious estimates, including a recent IMF paper that suggested a potential rise of 9% in tax-to-GDP ratio. But thinking of this as achievable in the medium term is unrealistic. Broad statements on tax-to-GDP ratios, like those advocated in the IMF publication, are not only methodologically dubious but can actively undermine the goals they are supposed to achieve.

Our latest ICTD policy brief argues that many of these optimistic projections tend to miss a key aspect: time. This then has implications on financing development and tax policy and administration. Drawing from these arguments, a panel of researchers and practitioners are set to discuss whether optimistic tax targets are helpful or hurtful, and how we can make them better.

The webinar is organised on the sidelines of the IMF Spring Meetings 2024, where various stakeholders, including finance and development ministers and policymakers, are set to discuss the world economic outlook and other issues of global concern.


  • Giulia Mascagni (Chair), ICTD
  • Max Gallien and Adrienne Lees (presentation), ICTD
  • Doris Akol, International Monetary Fund
  • Bernard Baimwera, Kenya School of Revenue Administration
  • Kyle McNabb, ODI
  • Modeste Fatoing Mopa, International Monetary Fund
  • Amina Ebrahim, United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

Watch now

Event Details
Past Event
17 April 2024

Giulia Mascagni

Giulia Mascagni is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Research Director of the ICTD. Her main area of work is taxation, but she also has research interest in public finance, evaluation of public policy, and aid effectiveness. She is an economist by training, holding a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. Her main geographical interest lies in African countries, with a particular focus on Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Adrienne Lees

Adrienne Lees is a Doctoral Fellow at ICTD, working primarily on projects relating to tax administration and compliance, and on the DIGITAX programme. She has completed an ODI Fellowship in the Tax Policy Department at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Uganda. Adrienne holds an MSc in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford and is completing her PhD in Economics at the University of Sussex.

Max Gallien

Max Gallien is a Research Fellow at the ICTD. His research specialises in the politics of informal and illegal economies, the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa and development politics. He completed his PhD at the London School of Economics. Max co-leads the informality and taxation programme with Vanessa, as well as the ICTD’s capacity building programme.

Doris Akol

Doris Akol is a Ugandan lawyer and consultant on revenue administration. She is currently the chair of the ICTD’s Centre Advisory Group, and a Senior Economist at the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department. She was formerly the Senior Policy and Engagement Advisor with ICTD Digitax Programme. Prior to that she was the Commissioner General at the Uganda Revenue Authority, a position she held until March 2020.

Bernard Baimwera

Dr Bernard Baimwera is currently the Dean at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration, Kenya Revenue Authority. Previously, he was a Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Public Finance at Strathmore Business School, Strathmore University, Kenya. He has over 20 years’ experience in teaching and research in public finance and taxation. He is currently involved in Tax Research to inform policy at the Kenya Revenue Authority. His current research interests are in environmental finance and taxation.

Kyle McNabb

Dr Kyle McNabb is a Research Associate and the Uganda Country Lead in the Centre for Tax Analysis in Developing Countries (TaxDev) programme at ODI. Based full time in Kampala. He is the author of the TaxDev Employment Income Taxes Dataset and, prior to joining ODI, was a research fellow at UNU-WIDER in Helsinki where he was responsible for the Government Revenue Dataset project. His research interests are focused on the policy design of income taxes in developing country settings.

Modeste Fatoing Mopa

Modeste Fatoing Mopa, is the Head of the TADAT Secretariat in the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the IMF. Modeste has a long tax administration experience, including as Director General of the Cameroonian Tax Administration from 2013 to 2023. He also served as an IMF tax administration resident advisor in AFRITAC WEST. Before joining the IMF as a resident expert, he was Director of Legislation, Litigation, and International Taxation of the Directorate General of Taxation of Cameroon. His broader international experience entailed being a cofounder and member of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), serving with a 3-year mandate as President of CREDAF, the Tax Administration Association of the 30 French-speaking countries worldwide, as well as Cameroon’s representative at the CEMAC permanent tax and accounting harmonization commission.

Amina Ebrahim

Amina Ebrahim is a Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER. She is a focal point for tax policy research in the Domestic Revenue Mobilisation programme. Her research interests include labour and public economics, focusing on employment, tax, and social policies. Her recent research has focused on evaluating South Africa’s youth wage subsidy policy using tax data from South Africa. Her work focuses on making administrative tax data available for research through collaboration with African revenue authorities.