The University of Pretoria (UP) has conferred an Honorary Doctorate (honoris causa) in Commerce on Professor Sijbren Cnossen during its 2022 autumn graduation session.
Prof Cnossen is recognised as an international authority in the field of public finance and taxation, and previously held the position of extraordinary professor at the African Tax Institute (ATI) in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) at UP.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Professor Cnossen expressed his joy at the honour that was conferred on him.
“Ke boile gae,” said Prof Cnossen, beginning his remarks by stating that he is back home at UP, in Sepedi. “I am deeply moved and humbled by the honorary degree this great university has bestowed on me so generously. I am forever indebted to Professor Riël Franzsen– I assume he initiated the process [of getting me honoured] – for his love and friendship that have sustained me throughout the two decades that I was associated with the University of Pretoria. I am also indebted to the staff and students of the ATI in the EMS Faculty for offering me a most congenial environment in which to teach and publish,” he said.
Prof Cnossen began his professional career as an inspector of taxes in the Dutch Tax Service in 1961 and thereafter as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (from 1965 to 1977). His academic career began at Erasmus University in Rotterdam in 1977.
Professor Sijbren Cnossen, who was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate (honoris causa) in Commerce by the University of Pretoria, has a longstanding academic relationship with the University's Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
He is a revered scholar in the fields of tax coordination, income taxation, excise taxation and value-added tax. Prof Cnossen has lectured at universities, ministries of finance, and research institutes all over the world. He is a past editor of two highly regarded journals, International Tax and Public Finance and De Economist, and the author and co-author of many scholarly books and numerous articles on the policy design and economics of taxation.
In addition, Prof Cnossen has acted as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank, European Commission, USAID and various foreign tax committees. He has advised some 30 countries on the design of their tax systems.
Prof Cnossen has received various accolades for his contributions to the field of public finance and taxation. He received the Jan Giele Prize (2009) for outstanding contributions to equitable taxation; is a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion, an honour bestowed on him by the Dutch government in 2016; and in 2019, Erasmus University honoured him with the Sijbren Cnossen Chair in Public Economics.
Prof Cnossen has a longstanding academic relationship with UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. He has visited the faculty annually since 2002 when the predecessor of the African Tax Institute, the Southern African Tax Institute, commenced with short courses for government officials from African countries. Since 2009, when the African Tax Institute commenced with its Master’s Programme in Taxation, he has been an instructor for several MPhil: Taxation modules; he also coordinated the Value-Added Taxation module from 2009 to 2017. His commitment to the African Tax Institute is evidenced by one of his most recent books, Modernizing VATs in Africa, which he dedicated to his students at the Institute.
“The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences is really pleased to have a long-standing academic relationship with someone of Prof Cnossen’s stature,” said Professor Margret Chitiga-Mabugu, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. “This honorary doctorate is a gesture of recognition of his expertise and a token of our appreciation for the time he has invested in the African Tax Institute over the past 20 years. His exceptional contributions to the field of public finance and tax policy are world-renowned and our staff and students have benefited immensely from his insights. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”
Following the awarding of the doctorate, Prof Cnossen delivered a special lecture titled ‘Excise taxation to preserve health and to protect the environment’.
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