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  • Author: Alan Gelb, Anit Mukherjee
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. Simply increasing energy prices will have adverse impact on poorer consumers, who may spend substantial budget shares on energy and energy-intensive products even though the rich typically appropriate more of the price subsidy. Equitable pricing reforms therefore need to be accompanied by programs to transfer compensation: depending on the situation, this can be targeted or universal. Successful reforms require measures to raise awareness-of the subsidies and the problems they cause, effective dissemination of the reform to the population, and rapid feedback loops to facilitate mid-course corrections. Digital technology, including for unique identification and payments, as well as general communications, can help build government capacity to undertake such reforms and respond to changes in fuel markets. The paper outlines the use of digital technology, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward. However, it can be employed in a number of ways to increase the prospects for successful and sustainable reform.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Science and Technology, Reform, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, India, Latin America
  • Author: Jonah Busch, Avani Kapur, Anit Mukherjee
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Later this year, India’s 15th Finance Commission will review the formula used by its predecessor to determine how much central tax revenue will be devolved to each state for fiscal years 2020-21 through 2024-25. Currently, 7.5 percent of the fiscal devolution (an estimated $6.9-12 billion per year) is allocated in proportion to their forest area circa 2013. These “ecological fiscal transfers” (EFTs) provide Indian states with the incentive to increase their forestry budgets as an investment in increased future shares of central taxes. In this paper, we look at whether states are yet taking advantage of this opportunity. We find that states increased their forestry budgets by 19 percent in three years after the introduction of EFTs relative to three years prior. However, this increase is considerably less than the 42 percent overall budget increase over the same time period. We surmise that states are not yet certain that EFTs will continue in such a way that increases in forest cover will be rewarded with increases in revenue. We recommend that the 15th Finance Commission resolve this uncertainty for states by (i) keeping forests in the devolution formula, and (ii) updating the reference year (e.g. 2019). By doing so India’s EFTs can fulfill their potential as an innovative mechanism for incentivizing states to protect and restore forests, thereby mitigating climate change.
  • Topic: Environment, Governance, Fiscal Policy, Ecology, Forest
  • Political Geography: India, Asia