Abuja – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday called on development partners and other stakeholders to scale up support for Nigeria and other African countries to tackle Illicit Financial Flows (IFF).
The UNDP country Director, Samuel Bwalya, made the call in Abuja at a high level technical consultation on public tax and fiscal transparent rules for multinational and private individual in Africa.
“African government must tackle illicit financial flows with greater precision and our development partners must commit to support these measures with credibility and honesty.
“Multinational companies, international financial and banking institutions, civil society and citizens alike must all stand up to bring the change we all want as we move to implement the global agenda,” he said.
Bwalya said that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) African leaders and other stakeholders must join hands in stamping out IFFs.
According to him dealing with trans-boundary economic crimes and illicit flow of resources requires cooperation between source and recipient countries including those that provide tax haven.
He said that this made bilateral and multilateral cooperation on the issue as an important determinant of the speed and level of success that can be attained as far as addressing the root causes of illicit financial flows is concerned.
“Policy and regulatory regimes are certainly important in addressing these issues, but Africa also suffers greatly from institutional failures, weather internationally designed or through capacity limitation to interpret, monitor and enforce economic laws.
“In some ways merely strengthening existing institutions by giving them greater autonomy and tools with which to carry out their duties can make a big difference in how they discharge their legitimate mandate,” he said.
Bwalya, called for support for institutional strengthening which includes the ideas of Tax Inspectors Without Border which UNDP and other partners are championing.
He called on the governments and other stakeholders in Africa to sound alarm call that efforts are urgently needed to stop the tax and fiscal manipulation.
The country director expressed concern that the manipulation erodes Africa’s financial base and capacity to finance its own development and by implications the SDGs
“African can no longer fold their arms and assume a watchman’s role as its development resources get looted in illicit financial transactions and activities,” he said.
He noted that critical point failure for Africa has to do with weak tax administration systems and complex multinational tax avoidance schemes.
Others he said includes widespread engagement of multinational corporations in transfer pricing and cross border intragroup transactions, and the lopsided negotiation of tax holidays and incentives.
The country director said that this also included the use of offshore investment accounts to facilitate illicit flows from Africa.
According to him these combined account for over 60 per cent of total illicit financial flows from Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports the UN says IFFs are difficult to estimate mostly because they are by definition hidden and difficult to track but most researchers agree that they are high and increasing.
However it is estimated that illicit financial flow gulps over one trillion dollars in the last 50 years with drainage of over 50 billion dollars from Africa every year