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Harnessing the African cash economy: ATAF meeting

Harnessing the African cash economy: ATAF meeting

26 October, 2016    

In October 2016, Cenfri attended the Africa Tax Administration Forum (ATAF). ATAF is a membership-driven African intergovernmental platform that focuses on improving the capacity of African tax administrations, advancing the role of taxation in African governance, and developing and supporting partnerships between African countries and development partners. Over 90 participants (including tax and revenue authorities from over 40 African countries) were invited to the event, which combined an ATAF General Assembly with technical session on “Harnessing the African cash economy: Contributing towards the expansion of the African tax base”.

Masiiwa Rusare presented the prevalence of cash from Cenfri’s Making Access to Financial Services Possible (MAP)tax work and why consumers have rational reasons (based on their needs) for this.

Tax authorities, policymakers, and other stakeholders need to better understand these needs to enhance financial inclusion. Our input also emphasised the need for tax authorities to coordinate effectively with other regulators (ecosystem approach) in ensuring that Financial Access Task Force (FATF) guidelines on Anti-money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT) are properly implemented to avoid financial exclusion arising from de-risking and growing cash economy.

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The key takeaways from Cenfri’s engagement at the ATAF event include:
  • Some tax authorities advocated for moving away from labelling the cash economy as “shadow” or “underground” economy to “unobservable” economy. This influences the approach with which tax authorities engage with this sector.
  • Although tax authorities have tremendous potential to promote financial inclusion, they themselves are disconnected and excluded. There is therefore need for them to play an active role in financial inclusion including in assessing risks (since they know the key risk sectors and those that rely heavily on cash) under the FATF risk-based approach.
  • There is opportunity for Cenfri to collaborate with ATAF on financial inclusion and Risk Based Approach (RBA) under AML-CFT as well as capacity building.
  • Commissioner Generals from the following tax authorities expressed interest in Cenfri’s work on financial inclusion, data support and analysis as well as Risk Based Approach (RBA) work: Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Services, South Africa Revenue Services, Uganda Revenue Services; Burundi Revenue Services; Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. Follow up on this is underway.
  • Cenfri was requested to provide inputs into a policy brief arising from the meeting outcomes
  • Zambia Revenue Authority are looking forward to meeting and collaborating with our MAP team during our MAP Zambia visit.