Reporting Research

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Unlocking tax secrets

Next week Kenyan journalists, researchers, civil society representatives and policymakers will come together to discuss the issues of tax and governance during a Roundtable event organised by the Relay team in Nairobi.

Relay’s current project in Eastern Africa was designed to improve reporting of research on the important issues of tax and governance. Roundtable meeting will serve as a platform facilitating wider and more informed debate between different stakeholders.

Multi-stakeholder platforms and information sharing coalitions such as the East Africa Tax and Governance Network (EATGN) can successfully contribute to the Relay’s mission of communicating research.

The EATGN emerged out of a Relay workshop with a goal to promote new and sustained dialogue and media debate on governance and taxation issues in Kenya and across East Africa. Serving as a multi-stakeholder platform for researchers, civil society representatives and the media, the EATGN has Relay’s mission of reporting research at the centre of its structure. It aims to ‘increase the quality and frequency of media reporting on tax and governance, and enhance communication between research organizations and other actors in society’.

During the EATGN’s inaugural national conference on tax justice, held in Kenya on 23rd August 2011, the participants discussed and demystified various issues surrounding tax and governance. As a result of this session, Tax Justice Network Africa published a report: ‘Unlocking tax secrets: Conference on demystifying taxation in Kenya’.

The report highlights the importance of transparency in public spending, demystifying tax and informing citizens about governance issues through improved media coverage. The paper suggests that ‘tax literacy will ensure people are informed of the importance of paying taxes’. Dr Dereje Alemayehu, Chairperson of the African Steering Committee (Tax Justice Network Africa) underlined, while speaking at the conference, that ‘the more dependent the state is on revenue obtained from taxes, the more accountable governments become to their citizens’.

Journalists taking part in the conference expressed interest in reporting research on tax to inform the public. Some of them later took part in the PEA’s fellowship programme encouraging good media coverage on tax and governance issues. Fellows have closely worked with the EATGN, building relationships with researchers and ensuring that their findings are communicated to wider audiences.

Information on tax and public spending can be empowering. Here: women's co-operative adult education class. - Neil Cooper / Panos Pictures

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