Role play shows usefulness of FTM data for Influencing by CSOs, Media & Policy makers.
Fair Tax Monitor session at Oxfam Evidence for Influencing Conference

The Fair Tax Monitor team was present during the Evidence for Influencing Conference organized by the Oxfam Research Network. The event was organized in Soesterberg, The Netherlands on 23 and 24 October 2017. The conference was zooming into the diverse types of research and evidence that are available and the role they could play in influencing trajectories.

During the FTM session we asked the participants to join us in a role-playing exercise focused on the Tax Exemption regimes in two imaginary countries Attistan and Balonia. Participants discussed possible criteria that could be used to assess the fairness of the Tax Exemptions in both countries and came up with several interesting suggestions of what should be assessed:

Do companies stay also after the tax exempted period has ended? Are the jobs generated linked to the tax exemption extra (new) jobs? What is the quality of the generated jobs? Do the companies apply the labor laws? Was there a cost-benefit analysis? Is there a list of all the benefitting companies? How is it determined which investors get a tax exemption?

 

 

Following this first exercise we assigned separate roles to the participants. All participants were Ballonians in the following roles CSO staff, Government Officials, Media and Opposition Politicians. From these roles we asked the participant to review the Balonia scoring which looked as follows:

Conclusions from these sessions were that the biggest problem is how much revenue is lost. So for the media the headline would be the “leak in the boat” and to find out who the beneficiaries are (maybe presidents family?). For CSO the main issue of importance is translating the data to accessible info for their constituencies. How should people interpret e.g. the size of the revenue forgone? For government officials it was relevant to emphasis they did not break any rules, nevertheless they expressed willingness to relate exemption decisions better with investment benefits. Opposition politicians used the data to press for better cost-benefit analysis. And they also pressed for democratic consultation, as tax exemptions represent a gift from the people to investors, people should be consulted in these kinds of decisions.

The insights gained during the workshop will be taken up during the further development of the FTM methodology and will be helpful in the process of continuous sharpening of the methodology.