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Fiscal capacity in "post"-conflict states: Evidence from trade on Congo river

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Ola Olsson
Peter Martinsson
Maria Eriksson Baaz
Publicerad i Journal of Development Economics
Volym 146
Nummer/häfte September
ISSN 0304-3878
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för nationalekonomi med statistik
Språk en
Länkar https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2...
Ämnesord Taxation Congo Trade Corruption River transport
Ämneskategorier Nationalekonomi

Sammanfattning

In many post-conflict states with a weak fiscal capacity, illicit domestic levies on trade remain a serious obstacle to economic development. In this paper, we explore the interplay between traders and authorities on Congo River - a key transport corridor in one of the world’s poorest and most conflict-ridden countries; DR Congo. We outline a general theoretical framework featuring transport operators who need to pass multiple taxing stations and negotiate over taxes with several authorities on their way to a central market place. We then examine empirically the organization, extent, and factors explaining the level of taxes charged by various authorities across stations, by collecting primary data from boat operators. Most of the de facto taxes charged on Congo River have no explicit support in laws or government regulations and have been characterized as a “fend for yourself”-system of funding. Our study shows that traders have to pass more than 10 stations downstream where about 20 different authorities charge taxes. In line with hold-up theory, we find that the average level of taxation tends to increase downstream closer to Kinshasa, but authorities that were explicitly prohibited from taxing in a recent decree instead extract more payments upstream. Our results illustrate a highly dysfunctional taxing regime that nonetheless is strikingly similar to anecdotal evidence of the situation on the Rhine before 1800. In the long run, a removal of domestic river taxation on Congo River should have the potential to raise trade substantially.

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