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Tax Training

UCT, in coordination with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and African Tobacco Control Consortium (ATCC partners), hosts an annual tax training workshop. Although preference is given to the ATCC priority countries (Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia), it is foreseen that other countries may also benefit from the training over the course of the project, which is consistent with the aim of broadening the knowledge base in the economics of tobacco control in the larger sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region.

The aim of the tax training workshops is to provide technical assistance to government officials, NGO staff, members of the media, academics and policy makers regarding tax changes as a tobacco control strategy and a way to collect more taxes. The workshops are tailored to each country’s needs. The preference is to work with countries where there is the political will to increase the tax rate and/or improve the tax structure to make it more efficient. We ideally work with a single point person in the country who in turn uses his/her contacts to put a team of delegates together. To date, both the tax workshops have been held at UCT. For further information about the workshops, including enquiries about hosting a workshop in your country please contact Nicole Vellios at nicolevellios@gmail.com.

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2012 workshop participants and presenters

In January 2011 a tax training workshop for Kenyan delegates was held at UCT in conjunction with the Institute for Legislative Affairs, and included participants from government and civil society. The focus was on using increasing the excise tax to reduce tobacco consumption in Kenya. The workshop focused largely on the excise tax structure in Kenya, since this, rather than the level of the excise tax, was perceived as the main hurdle to raising the excise tax. This, and a subsequent WHO workshop in Nairobi, seems to have been instrumental in the Kenyan government accepting that the current excise tax structure is not conducive to effective tobacco control.

In fact, in 2011 the government of Kenya changed the four-tiered excise tax structure to a single specific tax, subject to an additional ad valorem tax for high-prices cigarettes. This is likely to result in more predictable revenues, because under the previous tax regime the industry had a strong incentive to manipulate cigarette prices in order to minimise the excise tax.

In June 2012, a tax training workshop was held at UCT with ten delegates from Botswana. The team consisted of representatives from academia, government ministries, the media and the chamber of commerce. Botswana, as a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), does not have autonomous control over the setting of the excise tax. It is set largely by South Africa. However, the Botswana government is strongly considering imposing an additional levy on tobacco products sold in the country. Whole this has not been considered for other SAC countries, Botswana has successfully levied a 50% additional levy on alcohol sold in the country. The political will to introduce this additional levy seems to be strong.