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The purpose of this issue paper is to identify and discuss major challenges, appropriate responses, and relevant tools for addressing corruption in revenue administrations. The paper discusses the limitations of some of the 'technocratic' approaches to institutional reforms taken by donors. Donor approaches have often overlooked the fact that reforming a revenue administration - although it has important technical aspects - is also a social and political phenomenon driven by human behaviour and local circumstances. It is often a long and difficult process that requires civil servants and politicians to change the way they regard their jobs and responsibilities, including their interaction with citizens. The paper shows that fighting corruption in revenue administrations requires reformers to look beyond the formal structures of the central state - to the informal networks of patronage and social domination which often determine how political power is actually wielded. There is often an acute disjuncture between the formal rules that define institutional structure and functions, and the 'real politics' of how revenue administrations actually work.

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Research Professor, Coordinator: Tax and Public Finance