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THE COMPETITIVENESS IMPACT OF A MULTILATERAL ELECTRICITY GENERATION TAX

Reyno Seymore, Margaret Mabugu and Jan Van Heerden ()

No 200919, Working Papers from University of Pretoria, Department of Economics

Abstract: The South African Government announced, in the 2008 Budget Review, the intention to tax the generation of electricity from non-renewable sources with 2c/kWh. This tax is to be collected by the producers/generators of electricity at the source. The intention of the tax is to serve a dual purpose of managing the potential electricity shortages in South Africa and to protect the environment. The primary objective of this paper is to evaluate the impact of an electricity generation tax on the international competitiveness of South Africa. Specifically, different scenarios are assessed to establish whether the loss of competitiveness can be negated through an international, multilateral electricity generation tax. The paper firstly considers the beneficial impact of environmental taxation on the competitiveness of a country. We subsequently apply the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model to evaluate the impact of an electricity generation tax on the competitiveness of South Africa, given multilateral taxes on SACU, SADC and European Union economies. We simulate the proposed tax as a 10 percent increase in the output price of electricity. We assume a closure rule that allows unskilled labour to migrate between sectors and a limited skilled workforce. As expected, a unilateral electricity generation tax in South Africa will adversely affect the competitiveness of the South African economy and slightly improve the competitiveness of the other SACU and SADC economies. However, if a multilateral tax is imposed throughout the SACU and SADC countries, South Africa will experience a marginally greater loss of competitiveness compared to a unilateral tax. At the same time the rest of the SACU and SADC countries will experience a loss of competitiveness. The benefit of emission reduction in South Africa will also be lower under these multilateral tax scenarios. The competitiveness effect on the South African economy as well as emission reduction will be more moderate under a multilateral South Africa/EU electricity generation tax than under a unilateral South African tax.

Pages: 19 pages
Date: 2009-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-acc, nep-afr, nep-cse, nep-ene and nep-env
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