Uche Usim, Abuja
African leaders yesterday rose in unison to address a plethora of internal system failure which robs the continent a whopping $50 billion annually via illicit financial flows.
The African leaders and technocrats met in Abuja for the meeting of African Union high level panel on Illicit financial flow from Africa, Chaired by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki.
Speaking at the event, Mbeki emphasized the need to fight the perennial challenge of Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) as it was capable of ruining the continent’s economy.
According to him, African nations need to plug the gaps in system and retain over $50 billion lost to IFF.
He said: “There is need to act on the matter. We as Africans need to do something to retain our funds.
“The decision spelt out by African Union Financial intelligence centre to end the IFF is important. We need to work on our Customs, tax authorities, financial intelligent agencies etc.
“Again, we need to work with the rest of the world to deal with the matter.
We need to talk to the European Union (EU), World Customs Organisations, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, among others.
“These foreign organisations need an annual report to see what we are doing to implement decisions being taken with regards to checking IFF.
“We really need to act on this matter urgently. It’s also good to listen to what Nigeria is doing to check IFF.
Whatever Nigeria is doing will be an inspiration to other African countries.
“Again, there’s need for capacity building for those in financial system. We need to train those who collect taxes, who drive the system, etc. We have capacity constraints and we need to address that. African nations can seek each other’s help in that regard”, Mbeki advised.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, said Nigeria has the highest record of IFF in Africa.
He also revealed that the agency was working with relevant anti-graft agencies to check the trend.
Highlighting the benefits of curbing Illicit Financial Flows in Nigeria in particular, Fowler revealed that the “total tax debt recovered From January 2017 to 31st August 2018 is N3,631,949,050, broken down as From Nov 2016 – Dec 2017 Total collected – N1.9 billion From Jan 2018 – Date N1.731 billion.”
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With regards to the Issuance of tax notification obligation to Company Income Tax (CIT) Non-Compliant Companies that own properties and Identified Non-Filers for Abuja, Fowler stated that it issued 2,672 Demand Notices; 653 those Now Filing and N2.983 Billion as total payments for Demand Notices for Abuja Properties
Fowler identified the Component of Illicit Financial Flows in Nigeria to include: Commercial Activities which are illegal flows from business activities that leads to hiding wealth, evading or aggressively avoiding tax, and dodging customs duties and domestic levies; Criminal activities: IFFs are often driven by criminal activities with the purpose of keeping the transactions from the view of law enforcement agencies or revenue authorities; Corruption: Money acquired through bribery and abuse of office by public officials are enormous and can be used to further develop different projects, and also increase taxation revenue collection.
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said the federal government created the several machinery including the whistle-blower policy aimed at checking corruption.
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