Policy Specialist – Taxation

UNDP - United Nations Development Programme

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The Government of the Republic of Serbia continued to pursue the Public Administration Reform (PAR) agenda at an accelerated pace and worked towards improving accountability and further rationalising the use of public resources. In order to underpin fiscal consolidation and strengthen governance, the Government committed to implementing structural fiscal policy measures as part of Public Finance reform, aiming to increase fiscal transparency, introduce fiscal impact assessments of new legislative initiatives, strengthen cash management, internal control, and external audit and to raise the efficiency of revenue collection by further strengthening Tax and Customs administrations.

As a successor to the previous strategic framework in this area, the new Public Finance Management Reform Programme for the period 2021-2025 (PFM RP) was adopted by the Government on Serbia in late June 2021. It complements the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2021-2030 (PAR Strategy) of April 2021 and bases its premises on the conclusions of the recently conducted Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) , the SIGMA  Monitoring Report , the key recommendations of the 2021 EU Progress Report for Serbia  and pillar specific requirements which derive from the EU accession process and set five key medium term reform priorities  which aim to contribute to ensuring effective financing of Government policies through a sound system of public internal financial management and control and a sustainable public debt.

The new PFM Reform Program relies to a great extent on the obligations that Serbia has assumed as part of EU accession negotiations under relevant chapters and even though Public Finance Management Reform is classified in the Fundamental cluster according to the new methodology for EU accession, it extends beyond encompassing several other horizontal issues which include macroeconomic stability, good governance, business environment and transparency. In that sense, it is an overarching framework which fundamentally integrates functional and EU accession requirements under chapters 5 – Public Procurement, 16 – Taxation, 22 – Regional Policy and Structural Instruments, 17 – Economic and Monetary Policy, 29 – Customs Union, 32 – Financial Control and 33 – Financial and Budgetary Provisions. The obligations assumed as part of the accession negotiations as well as the closing benchmarks (where they have been defined to date) will navigate the implementation of the PFM RP and serve as the fundamental source for the verification of the results that are anticipated to be achieved.

The EU Public Financial Reform (PFM) Facility aims to provide effective technical support and assistance to the beneficiary institutions in Serbia in line with the draft IPA 2021 Action Document in key areas of Chapter 5 – Public Procurement, Chapter – 16 Taxation, Chapter – 29 Customs Union, and Chapter 32 – Financial Control of Serbia’s EU accession negotiations with a focus on strengthening IT systems of Tax and Customs Administration and Public Internal Financial Control issues.

The overall objective of the PFM Facility Action is to enhance the efficiency of budget execution, public Finance Management and Public Internal Financial Control in line with EU standards and best practices. In order to achieve this objective, a set of focused activities will be defined during the inception phase and will be implemented under the following five outcomes:

  • Outcome 1 – Preconditions for effective exchange of information on Value Added Tax with EU members states met
  • Outcome 2 – Operational and administrative capacities of Customs Administration strengthened and interoperability of the Serbian Customs IT system with the EU is ensured
  • Outcome 3 – Public sector management and accountability are improved through strengthened Financial Management and Control systems and Internal Audit
  • Outcome 4 – Efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of public procurement procedures in Serbia are enhanced
  • Outcome 5 – Selected priority areas of public finance management reform supported

Transformation of Serbian Tax Administration (STA) was earmarked as one of the key priorities of the Government as the effectiveness of revenue collection had a high impact on competitiveness and economic growth. The Government also invested efforts into combatting the shadow economy, raising the awareness of the citizens of Serbia that increased tax collection enables better social and healthcare services as well as the delivery of public service delivery.

Significant progress in improving the functionality of Tax Administration and effectiveness of tax collection was achieved during the implementation of the of the first Tax Administration Transformation Program 2015-2020 (TA TP) but there is still a pending need to further enhance the administrative capacities and improve business processes while at the same time, to align with EU requirements under Chapter 16 – Taxation. Digitalization of services in its full capacity remain one of the cornerstones of the reform efforts of the STA in the medium term it is reflected through one of the three objectives of the new Tax Administration Transformation Program 2021-2025 and Action Plan for the period 2018 – 2023. In line with the recommendations of the 2021 EU Progress Report, Serbian Tax Administration will focus its efforts towards improving legislative alignment in the areas of VAT, excise duties and direct taxation while working on establishing a system for exchanging information in line with EU and international standards. Measure 2.1 of the newly adopted PFM RP envisages establishing ICT systems as envisaged by Chapter 16 – Taxation requirements.

EU requirements in field of taxation necessitate the establishment of information systems that are interconnected and interoperable with the tax systems of EU member states, such as the Value Added Tax Information Exchange System (VIES), to ensure administrative cooperation and exchange of information with tax administrations of EU member states.

The VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) was introduced into the European Single Market in 1993 to control VAT in cross-border trade of goods and services between EU countries, replacing the fiscal customs-based controls which were previously conducted by individual member states. It is an electronic system which enables the transmission of information on VAT paid by economic operators registered in the EU and allows suppliers easily to validate the VAT numbers presented by purchasers. Its introduction yielded significant benefits as it reduced amount of paperwork and administration required by companies. When goods or services are traded between one taxable person and another within the EU, VAT should only be paid in the country where the buyer lives and the VIES enables suppliers quick and easy confirmation that VAT numbers provided by purchasers are valid. An additional benefit of the VIES is that it enables Tax Administrations in EU member states to detect irregularities in intra-community trading.

UNDP has been actively supporting Public Administration Reform and in particular, Public Finance Management Reform since 2000. The activities increased and intensified over the years as UNDP’s relationships with the institutions which were established after the first democratic elections in Serbia strengthened, coupled with the need to modernize public sector management, and ensure a fully functioning and accountable public finance management system based on the highest international standards, and since 2014, EU accession requirements.

The UNDP CO in Serbia has implemented a total of 37 technical assistance projects in the field of PFM reform from 2004 to date, with an overall budget of 23.449.392,00 USD. The EU PFM Facility will be implemented by the UNDP Public Finance Portfolio of the Good Governance Cluster. In light of the abovementioned and the project document, the UNDP is seeking to engage the Policy Specialist for Taxation, under the project Outcome 1 – Tax Policy and Reform. 

Duties and Responsibilities

The Policy Specialist for Taxation will be responsible for the provision of high-level policy advice to the project beneficiary (Serbian Tax Administration), coordination of implementation of project activities under the respective Outcome and technical implementation of project activities under the relevant Outcome.

S/he will coordinate project activities with national counterpart – Tax Administration, on achieving full alignment of the national legislative framework with the EU Acquis and international standards by conducting a gap assessment and recommendations for revising the national legislation to enable the full implementation of the VIES System. This will include the preparation of a Strategy and Road Map for the implementation of the VIES system as well as the development of the technical specifications for the procurement and implementation of the software solution (and supplementary hardware, if required) for putting the VIES system in place and providing the necessary training for Tax Administration for working in the system. More specifically, Policy Specialist for Taxation shall:

Provide high-level policy advice and coordinate the Project Output 1, by focusing on implementation and quality control with the purpose of achieving the planned results: 

  • Conduct regular horizon scanning to understand emerging trends and actors, as well as provide linkages and investigate opportunities for their application under the Project and beyond. 
  • In coordination with Policy Analyst – Public Finance Management, national partner institution and donor, develop and manage an overall implementation strategy for the respective outcome.
  • Lead the identification of project issues, challenges and risks, and appropriate strategies, and direct and oversee implementation of these strategies.
  • Design innovative solutions and application of best practice examples within the area of responsibility.
  • Coordination of program implementation with the local partner institution.
  • Introduction and monitoring of performance indicators / success criteria, targets, and milestones. 
  • Coordination of the production of timely, quality progress reports.
  • Ensuring implementation of the relevant component, in line with the Project Document and Annual Workplans, including providing written expert inputs to project plans, strategies, procurement planning, and reporting.  
  • Close coordination and synchronization of activities with other four project Outcomes.
  • Supervise and oversee planning of workshops, needs assessments, consultations, planning sessions, and provide technical inputs as may be necessary.
  • Provide inputs for monitoring reports (e.g. donor reports), prepare activity designs, briefing papers, technical reports, situation updates, M&E documents, and other documentation as may be required in project implementation.

Ensure adaptive delivery of the project by providing quality input and strategic advice focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Foresee possible roadblocks, as well as opportunities, and be able to put forth and implement contingency measures.
  • Provide new and innovative ways of working to achieve the goals of the project in the most efficient and effective means possible.
  • Overseeing the work of short-term consultants engaged in project implementation and ensuring that project deliverables contribute to the strategic goal of the project and provide timely and technically sound feedback.

Provision of top-quality policy advice services to the national counterpart, UNDP team and pool of experts, and facilitation of knowledge building and management: 

  • Network and build strong working relations with authorities and experts from the government agencies, UN system, international development organizations, private sector organizations, and other partners.
  • Work closely with the respective program team and operations team to support efficient delivery of project activities in line with strategic objectives.
  • Identification of credible sources of information concerning programme implementation and related issues.
  • Identification and synthesis of best local and international practices and lessons learned directly linked to the project.
  • Coordinate to plan, organize and conduct the Annual Review Meetings/Mid-Term Review/ End of Project Evaluation and ensure that lessons learned feed into the design and implementation of project activities.
  • Coordination of communications activities in accordance with principles discussed with the Steering Committee and in cooperation with communications focal points.
  • Sound contributions to knowledge networks and communities of practice. 

Institutional Arrangement

The incumbent will report directly to the Programme Specialist – Good Governance in the UNDP Serbia Country Office and will be a part of the Good Governance cluster team, benefitting from its technical and programmatic infrastructure. 

Core Competencies:
  • Achieve Results: LEVEL 3: Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact
  • Think Innovatively: LEVEL 3: Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems
  • Learn Continuously: LEVEL 3: Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences
  • Adapt with Agility: LEVEL 3: Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands
  • Act with Determination: LEVEL 3: Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results
  • Engage and Partner: LEVEL 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration
  • Enable Diversity and Inclusion: LEVEL 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity

People Management Competencies:

UNDP People Management Competencies can be found in the dedicated site

Cross-Functional & Technical Competencies:
  • Business Management – Project Management:   

    • Ability to plan, organize, prioritize and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals
  • Business Direction & Strategy – Strategic Thinking:   

    • Ability to develop effective strategies and priority plans in line with UNDP’s objectives, based on the systemic analysis of challenges, potential risks and opportunities; linking the vision to reality on the ground, and creating tangible solutions
  • Business Direction & Strategy – System Thinking:   

    • Ability to use objective problem analysis and judgement to understand how interrelated elements coexist within an overall process or system, and to consider how altering one element can impact on other parts of the system
  • Partnership management – Strategic engagement:   

    • Ability to capture and sustain attention, interest and agreement of high-level, influential policy and decision makers and secure their buy-in of high-level vision and objectives 
  • Digital & Innovation – Digital transformation design:     

    • Practical and strategic skills in digital transformation for governments and organizations
  • Ethics – Ethical Implications of Policy Development: 

    • Consult on the ethical implications within all policy development and standard setting.
Required Skills and Experience
  • Master’s degree in Economics, Law or related field.
  • Minimum 7 years of relevant work experience at senior levels in public finance, public policy, and taxation.


  • Fluency in English (written and spoken).
  • Knowledge of the languages spoken in the beneficiary countries/territory shall be considered an asset.

Desired skills in addition to the competencies covered in the Competencies section:

  • Experience in managing large scale policy-level PFM projects.
  • Experience in tax system restructuring.
  • Experience in implementing the PFM reforms in EU member states or candidate countries.
  • Prior work in the UN system shall be considered an asset.
  • Good organizational and time management skills.
  • Good application of Results-Based Management.
  • Good communication, coordination and facilitation skills.
  • Consistently ensures timeliness and quality of portfolio work.
  • Establishes lasting relationships and substantive dialogue with clients.
  • Treats all people fairly without favoritism.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability.
  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling.

The following documents shall be required from the applicants:

  1. Personal CV or P11, indicating all past positions held and their main underlying functions, their durations (month/year), the qualifications, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate, and at least three (3) the most recent professional references of previous supervisors. References may also include peers.
  2. A cover letter (maximum length: 1 page) indicating why the candidate considers him-/herself to be suitable for the position.
  3. Managers may ask (ad hoc) for any other materials relevant to pre-assessing the relevance of their experience, such as reports, presentations, publications, campaigns or other materials.
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Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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