The International Monetary Fund (IMF) commissioned SEO Amsterdam Economics to conduct a mid-term evaluation (MTE) of its Revenue Mobilization Thematic Fund (RMTF). The RMTF is a multi-donor trust fund for financing Capacity Development (CD) support in the areas of tax policy and revenue administration, primarily in low- and lower middle-income countries. The IMF launched the RMTF in 2016, as the successor of the Tax Policy and Administration Thematic Fund (TPA-TF).

The main objectives of this MTE were to assess the overall performance of the RMTF and to formulate recommendations for the next phase. SEO carried out the MTE between June 2021 and November 2022.

Key findings
The evaluation team concluded that the RMTF is well-managed and has thus far performed well against the OECD-DAC evaluation criteria, despite operational challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Relevance: RMTF projects were relevant in that they generally addressed the needs of recipient countries. The identification and approval process of RMTF projects also appeared adequate for ensuring involvement of local authorities and alignment with country priorities and needs.
  • Effectiveness: Project milestones and outcomes were largely achieved, and stakeholders were generally positive about RMTF’s effectiveness. However, the RMTF could do more to ensure that individual knowledge can also be applied in practice and translated into institutional change. Also, the RMTF could further improve the Results-Based Monitoring (RBM) framework and its consistent application to all RMTF projects.
  • Impact & Sustainability: While assessing impact and sustainability was difficult at this stage, the team noted that insufficient political support and staff capacity as well as too short duration of missions posed a significant risk to overall impact and the continuity thereof.
  • Coherence: The RMTF was well coordinated with other IMF initiatives (such as other thematic funds, as well as program and surveillance work). Although coordination of Development Partners (DPs) is the ultimate responsibility of the local authorities and had already improved recently, the RMTF could do more to avoid duplication, strengthen complementarities, and maximize synergies with other DPs.
  • Efficiency: There were no major concerns regarding the RMTF’s timeliness, operational efficiency, or output efficiency. However, RMTF’s recruitment process for short-term experts (STXs) could be more transparent and competitive. Considering its reasonable costs, the good quality of the outputs provided, and the value of the outcomes reached, the RMTF provided good “value for money”.

SEO evaluated the RMTF according to the OECD-DAC evaluation criteria, looking at both the fund and project level. At both levels, the team triangulated a mix of quantitative and qualitative information sources in order to arrive at an overall assessment:

  • RMTF-wide assessment:
    • Portfolio analysis of the available RBM data for the entire portfolio.
    • Extensive desk research and in-depth interviews with fund-level stakeholders (including IMF staff and representatives of other DPs).
    • Large survey among a wide variety of stakeholders (including recipients, IMF staff and RMTF funding partners).
  • Project-level assessment:
    • In-depth case studies, covering six individual RMTF-funded CD projects.
    • Each case study consisted of extensive desk review of project-specific data and documents as well as in-depth interviews with a wide range of stakeholders (including providers and recipients of CD, RMTF funding partners and external stakeholders).