BOLAJI OWASANOYE, chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has revealed that Nigeria accounts for 20 percent (about 10 billion dollars) of an estimated 50 billion dollars that Africa loses to illicit financial flows (IFFs).
Owasanoye, a professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made the disclosure in his welcome remark at a physical and virtual Zoom meeting to review the report of IFFs in relation to tax.
According to the ICPC chairman, “The African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly $50 billion through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about 20 percent of this figure is from Nigeria alone.”
The ICPC boss explained that taxes played “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy.”
Against this backdrop, he underscored the importance of the meeting, noting that it would afford participants the opportunity to openly discuss on how to effectively use the instrumentality of taxation to curb IFFs through “risk-based approach to monitoring and audit; due process in tax collection; structured tax amnesty framework especially that which is skewed in public interest; data privacy; timely resolution of audits and payment of tax refunds; and intelligence sharing among revenue-generating; regulatory; and law enforcement agencies.”
The ICPC boss also stated that for the contemporary tax man to remain relevant, he must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.
He, therefore, pointed out that the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation.
In his contribution to the discourse, Muhammad Nani, executive chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy as the act often robbed the nation of resources needed for development.
Nani declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base and improve revenue generation which was required for development.
He consequently pushed for policy reforms that would make it difficult for ‘capital flights’ to occur so that the country would be placed on the path of growth.
Other discussants at the event, who spoke with one accord, identified weak regulatory framework, opacity of financial system and lack of capacity, amongst others, as some of the factors fuelling IFFs.
The discussants again unanimously emphasised the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit flows.
They, therefore, commended ICPC for leveraging its corruption prevention mandate to open a new vista in IFFs discourse in Nigeria.