AERC conference to explore public finance amidst Covid-19 pandemic


AERC Executive Director Professor Njuguna Ndung’u
AERC Executive Director Professor Njuguna Ndung’u

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) will host its flagship international conference to discuss opportunities and challenges on the Covid-19 pandemic and public finance management in Africa.

This is the 54th plenary session of the Bi-annual Research Conference which will be held virtually on Monday, May 31, 2021. It will be followed by concurrent sessions from Monday June 1 to Friday 4th June 2021.

Speaking ahead of the conference, AERC Executive Director Professor Njuguna Ndung’u, said the Conference will be staged under the theme: “The COVID-19 pandemic and Public Finance in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities”

“The conference will give us an opportunity to reflect on the African fiscal policy response to the pandemic,” Prof. Njuguna said. “The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most devastating global health and economic crisis in modern history. The crisis has affected every facet of socio-economic functioning, including public finance, we will hear from policy makers across the world on their evidential approach to solutions-focused stance to public finance.”

The event that will be officiated by the World Bank Chief Economist and Vice President Professor Carmen Reinhart, will feature policy makers from across the world and will also feature a Special Session led by the Founding Executive Director of the AERC Jeffrey Fine honoring the first African AERC Executive Director and former Governor of the Tanzania Central Bank Prof. Bennu Ndulu who passed on in February 2021.

The conference will feature three thought-provoking presentations delivered by leading experts and academics, including:

· Dr. Oyebola Okunogbe, World Bank, on the Information Technology and Tax Mobilization in times of COVID-19.

· Dr. Edward Sennoga, African Development Bank, on Fiscal Sustainability in Africa: Accelerating the post-COVID-19 recovery through Improved Public Finance.

· Professor James Robinson, University of Chicago, on The Political Economy of State Capacity to Mobilize Taxes in Africa.

The pandemic compromised Africa’s state of public finance significantly leading to unprecedented contraction of tax revenue, whilst placing extreme stress on public spending as governments struggled to respond to the health crisis, including increased funding for: the health sector, social and business relief, measures to reduce and combat the spread of the virus and various other related needs. However, it also offers opportunities for constructive change as well.

The conference will bring together high level policy-makers, researchers, media, economists, academics, and non-state actors in a lively mix of panel discussions and interviews to explore fiscal management solutions across the continent.

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