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How Kinshasa’s markets are captured by powerful private interests

Posted 98 days ago | 12.03.18

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 How Kinshasa’s markets are captured by powerful private interests

Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is home to 10 million people. With an estimated 400 markets and over 1 million traders, markets are an important supplier of goods and source of livelihood. They are also an important source of revenue for the state.

Our ongoing research found that markets are also a major source of private revenue. A wide variety of actors are in constant competition for their share of revenue. These include market administrators, mayors, security officials, provincial ministers, high ranking bureaucrats, family members of the President, Presidential advisors, family members of high ranking civil servants. All are fighting to get their piece of the market income.

On the markets, private revenue is being collected through what is locally called “informal taxes”. These aren’t entered into formal revenue streams but are directly received by the civil servants and their superiors. A whole variety of those taxes are been collected on markets. They are referred to by a range of names, from ‘hygiene tax’, to ‘economy tax’, or ‘standard and conventional safety tax’.

On top of this our research also shows how the majority of the “formal” and officially acknowledged taxes aren’t fed into the formal hierarchy and revenue flow as they are supposed to be. Instead, they are kept locally. In other words, market administrators and civil servants do not pass on collected taxes but pocket them.

This leads to a situation in which traders feel they are overburdened by various forms of revenue extraction.

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