Taxing Alcohol in Africa: Reflections from International Experience
Governments exist, in part, to cope with the weaknesses of their citizens and subsist, to some extent, on the basis of those same weaknesses. Alcoholic beverages have long played a critical role on both sides of this equation. Over-indulgence in drink is a factor in crime, injury, and illness. It is also a potentially lucrative source of tax revenue. From a public policy perspective, alcohol thus has two faces: viewed from one side, it is a villain giving rise to social problems and consequently the need for public expenditure; viewed from the other, however, it is a hero riding to the rescue with copious fiscal returns. This ambivalence has, over the years, led to many hypotheses with respect to how much and how to tax alcohol and not a little hypocrisy in the public discussion of this question. This paper summarize the current state of the art of taxing alcohol around the world, and draws from international experience some implications for sub-Saharan African governments that are wrestling with the apparently eternal conundrums and trade-offs that confound alcohol tax policy everywhere.
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|Date of revision:||Nov 2003|
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