Training available for African-based tax officials

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The African Tax Institute (ATI), located in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria, is preparing tax policy advisors and tax officials to effectively realize these goals.

The ATI is well-placed to offer academic programmes and ongoing training and skills development to African-based tax officials. It was launched in 2002 as the Southern African Tax Institute (SATI) by the then Minister of Finance of South Africa, Trevor Manuel. Given the interest in its programmes and courses from far beyond Southern Africa (e.g. Kenya, Sudan and Uganda), the name was changed to "African Tax Institute' in June 2007. The ATI is devoted to training, research, and technical assistance in the areas of tax policy and tax administration on the African continent.

Apart from a master?s programme (which commenced in 2009) and doctoral programme in tax policy (which commenced in 2012), the ATI annually offers the following week-long short courses through Continuing Education at University of Pretoria Trust: Excise Taxation; Value-Added Taxation; Business Taxation; International Taxation and Tax Treaties; Introduction to Tax Analysis and Revenue Forecasting; Advanced Tax Analysis and Revenue Forecasting; Fiscal Decentralization and Local Taxation. In 2011 a new - and very popular - course on the Fiscal Regime for Petroleum and Mining was also introduced.

"Most developing countries are presently in a process of decentralization, including fiscal decentralization' a process that is strongly supported by the IMF , the World Bank, as well as the EU says Professor Riel Franzsen, Director of the African Tax Institute (ATI). This transformation is fuelling the demand for better informed and skilled tax officials.

To meet this demand the ATI developed a short course entitled "Fiscal Decentralization and Local Taxation? which has been offered annually since 2007. This course prepares participants to identify and appreciate the key policy issues regarding fiscal decentralization and recognize appropriate sources of local taxation and user charges. This is particularly beneficial for professionals in senior positions as the course will equip and empower them to influence policy or amendments to the law.

Participants receive the knowledge and tools needed to identify policy, legal and administrative weaknesses in their current fiscal decentralization structures and especially in their property tax systems. The instructors offering this course all have practical knowledge of policies and practices, having collectively consulted in more than 50 countries. According to Prof Franzsen, the fact that all the instructors have acted (and still act) as consultants to governments in various African countries, as well as developing and transition countries elsewhere in the world, ensures that they are able to focus on relevant policy issues and can provide practical real-world examples.

However, the real drawing card in respect of the Fiscal Decentralization course, as well as the other ATI courses, is the specific focus on African issues and using African experiences as case studies.

To date more than 1,300 government officials and academics from 26 African countries have benefited from one or more of the ATI?s wide range of courses and workshops.

For more information on these courses and postgraduate degree programmes, please visit the ATI website at www.ati.up.ac.za, or contact the ATI Programme Manager at [email protected], or the short course coordinator Getrude Mabasa on Tel: +27 (0)12 420 6464/5015 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected]

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