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‘Africa loses $80bn annually through IFF, Nigeria accounting for significant percentage’

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Nigeria’s finance minister Kemi Adeosun PHOTO: NAN


Nigeria and global organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group, have agreed on high-level collaborations with Nigeria and other African countries to stop Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) in Africa.
 
This was a major resolution reached at the ongoing Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) Conference at the United Nations in New York, according to a statement by Oluyinka Akintunde, the Special Adviser, Media, to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who is leading Nigeria’s delegation to the conference.
 
Adeosun, in her address at the conference, affirmed that the IFF was a problem that urgently requires global focus and actions towards the realisation of significant developmental progress for Nigeria and other developing countries.

Quoting the report of former South African President Mbeki’s High-Level Panel on IFFs, the Minister said Africa loses US$80 billion annually to IFFs, with a significant percentage of the loss coming from Nigeria. She disclosed that the Nigerian Government had engaged a leading international Asset Tracing and Investigation Agency (Kroll), to trace and track illicit flows and assets.
 
In addition, she said Nigeria had signed the Multilateral Competent Authority on Common Reporting Standards, which allows for exchange of financial account information. The country, according to her, is expected to affect the first exchange by 2019 as soon as the domestic legal framework was completed. As part of measures to tackle IFFs, Adeosun called for the tightening of Nigeria’s tax codes and tax laws that encourage tax avoidance.as well as strengthening of the tax system to make it more efficient. She further called for the elimination of safe havens that provide incentives for transfer of stolen assets and illicit financial flows abroad, and also the development of a supportive, efficient and speedy process for returning assets to originating countries.

On the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) introduced by the Federal Government in June 2017, she explained that the tax amnesty was targeted at increasing the taxpayer base, raising revenue and regularising the tax status of many Nigerians. She noted that the scheme was aimed at raising at least $1 billion and bringing in four million new taxpayers into the tax net.
  
The PCT Conference is a collaborative initiative of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund and United Nations. The inaugural PCT Conference, which has as theme, “Taxation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, is focusing on the opportunities and challenges for taxation and its role in supporting the SDGs.


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