Within the passing away of Richard Miller Chicken on June 9, the general public finance fraternity, significantly in growing international locations, has misplaced an unlimited reservoir of information. Apart from engaged on tax coverage and reforms and financial federalism in Canada, Chicken devoted a lot of the 60 years of his skilled life on fiscal coverage points in growing international locations throughout the globe, overlaying international locations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He was a professor emeritus on the Rotman College of Administration on the College of Toronto in addition to being a distinguished visiting professor on the Andrew Younger College of Public Coverage in Atlanta and an adjunct professor on the Australian College of Taxation and Enterprise legislation in Sydney. He was a recipient of a number of awards together with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award and Douglas Sherbaniuk Award by the Canadian Tax Basis and a Daniel M Holland Award of the Nationwide Tax Affiliation of the USA.
After graduating from Columbia College, Chicken labored at Harvard College and later on the Worldwide Financial Fund earlier than settling down on the division of economics, College of Toronto. He was part of a number of missions advising international locations the world over together with Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Columbia in Latin America and China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam in Asia.
In India, he was extensively consulted by the Tax Reforms Committee led by Raja Chelliah in 1991. Reviewing the committee’s work within the Financial and Political Weekly, he acknowledged: “Fiscal necessity, compelled with the will to let market forces to play a larger position in allocating assets… just about mandates main reforms within the cracking tax construction India has inherited from the previous.” He added, “The three experiences on the tax reforms in India… typically supply clear and sound steerage to what can and ought to be performed”.
The e book he edited with Oliver Oldman, Readings on Taxation in Creating International locations, was obligatory studying for all students and practitioners within the growing world. Later, he wrote Tax Coverage and Financial Growth, which continues to be a basic. Lately, he wrote a collection of articles with Eric Zolt reviewing theories and greatest follow approaches to tax reforms through which he espoused the Broad Base Low Fee strategy. His e book on VAT in Creating and Transitional International locations written with Pierre Pascal Gendron is maybe one of the influential coverage guides for international locations introducing the GST. Reviewing the e book within the Journal of Financial Literature, Michael Eager wrote, “This can be a wealthy and chic e book on a wealthy and (if we’re to know it correctly) inelegant matter… It does set out some key points and challenges in what stays a largely untrodden space.”
Chicken underlined that there is no such thing as a “one dimension matches all” strategy to GST, opposite to what the IMF advocates, however agreed with the traditional knowledge that international locations ought to: (i) intention for a worldwide tax with few exemptions, credit, rebates or deductions, (ii) not use the tax system to realize too many objectives, (iii) preserve the brink at a fairly excessive stage to concentrate on the “whales” somewhat than “minnows”, (iv) have minimal fee differentiation to maintain it easy, (v) repeatedly monitor the tax system and focus on assortment of tax at supply, (vi) not gather extra info than that may be processed and (vii) encourage good file holding and intention for long run aim of self-assessment. His concern was “…some unhealthy options — resembling too excessive or too low thresholds, overly intensive exemptions, or a number of charges — could also be important to profitable adoption within the first place. Nevertheless, as soon as launched it will likely be tough to take away them”. How true it’s within the case of India.
Richard’s analysis on fiscal federalism was proven in a number of incisive articles and books. Other than his work on Canada, he forayed into problems with intergovernmental finance in a number of growing international locations. An vital characteristic of his works was that they weren’t solely primarily based on a rigorous theoretical framework but additionally grounded in an understanding of programs and establishments. His work with Robert Ebel and Christine Wallich on Decentralisation of the Socialist State is an ordinary reference for all those that wish to perceive the decentralised programs in transitional international locations together with Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
In his passing away, I’ve misplaced a terrific buddy and guru. He was my thesis examiner means again in 1977, however I truly acquired to work together with him once I visited the College of Toronto in 1991. Since then, we had been interacting carefully, discussing many points in public finance. He carefully adopted the general public finance developments in India and commented extensively on them. I’ve collaborated with him on varied events. Most lately, we collaborated on a paper City Governance and Finance in India, written on the request of the chairperson of the Excessive Powered Committee on City Infrastructure and Governance. The final communication I had with Richard was on March 28 through which he wrote, “Thus far, I’m fairly wholesome, and on the entire, proceed to perform fairly effectively”. Alas, that assurance didn’t final lengthy, and cardiac arrest claimed his life. In his passing, we’ve got misplaced a strolling encyclopaedia on public finance and growth. A person who was beneficiant to a fault in his willingness to share. The general public finance fraternity has misplaced a legend.
The author was member, Fourteenth Finance Fee and former director, NIPFP