Policy implementation under stress: Central-local government relations in property tax administration in Tanzania
Inter-organisational cooperation in revenue collection has received limited attention in the tax administration literature. Recent experiences from Tanzania offer a unique opportunity to examine opportunities and challenges facing such cooperation between central and local government agencies in a developing country context. The administration of property taxes (PT) in Tanzania has been oscillating between decentralised and centralised collection regimes. This article examines how inter-organisational cooperation affected implementation of the reforms. Based on data collected during a series of fieldworks over the last decade, two lessons of broader relevance for policy implementation and PT administration are highlighted. First, institutional trust matters. Top-down reform processes, ambiguity related to the rationale behind the reforms, and lack of consultations on their respective roles and expectations, have acted as barriers to constructive working relationships between the local and central government revenue agencies. Second, administrative constraints, reflected in poor preparation, outdated property registers and valuation rolls, and inadequate incentives for the involved agencies to cooperate hampered the implementation of the reforms. The article contributes to the literature on inter-organisational cooperation in revenue collection through a detailed case study of property tax reforms in a developing country context. It also contributes to the literature on policy implementation by identifying political and administrative factors challenging the reform process. In line with this literature, the study shows that policy implementation is not necessarily a coherent process. Instead, it is frequently fragmented and disrupted by changes in policy formulation and access to adequate resources.
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