W’Africa loses N530bn to multinationals’ tax evasion –WATAF

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From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Chairperson, West African Tax Administrators Forum (WATAF), Mrs. Elfrieda Thamba, has revealed that about N530 billion was siphoned from the region between 2003 and 2012 by multinationals who engaged in tax invasion, profit shifting, illicit flow of funds and other illegal activities.

This was as the President of West African Union of Tax Institutes (WAUTI), Dr. Teju Somorin, said a team of facilitators drawn from different sectors in the region has been assembled to identify the issues, pose questions, proffer solutions to bring about a professionalised and harmonised tax system.

Speaking in Abuja at the 5th Annual International Tax Conference of WAUTI, Thamba, who doubles as the Commissioner General, Liberian Revenue Authority, called for closer collaboration between the West African region and other countries across the globe in order to share accurate information on every financial flow from one country to another.

She pointed out that a technical international capacity has to be built in the auditing system, while fresh laws reforms need to be introduced to clearly articulate appropriate sanctions for companies engaged in illicit flows.

Thamba, however, said that the lack of policy coherence generally limited prioritisation of tax administration and the deliberate actions of some multi-national companies investing in the West African region were responsible for the alarming impact of base erosion, profit shifting and illicit flows from the region.

She further admonished the union to consider other actions, which could be undertaken to further help the drive to reverse the devastating trend that is undermining growth and developments and threatening a better future of the unborn West African.

“This convening is at a time when there is global focus on domestic resource, mobilisation as donor support dries. The renewed focus is a cogent component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The chosen 2017 theme for this annual convergence, which is the ‘Relevance of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting to the Illicit Flow of Funds from Africa’ is significant to us as a people, our region and continent,” she said.

Earlier in his remarks, the President of WAUTI, Somorin, said that Base Erosion and Profit-shifting (BEP) on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) in Africa arising from the activities of multinational corporations with subsidiaries in different jurisdictions has resulted in capital flight, huge losses in tax revenue and an unwholesome trend.

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