The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has said that Nigeria accounts for about $10 billion that Africa loses to illicit financial flows (IFFs). This account for 20 per cent of the estimated $50 billion loss the continent suffers. Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the disclosure in his welcome remarks at a physical and virtual zoom meeting, organised to review the report on IFFs in relation to tax. Owasanoye’s revelation was contained in a statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua.
“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 was quoted as saying. This was as he explained that taxes were “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy”. Accordingly, the silk underscored the importance of the meeting, even as he noted that same would afford participants the opportunity to openly brainstorm 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 chairman was further quoted to have stated that for the contemporary tax collector to remain relevant, they must build their capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager. He pointed out that the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation. Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nani, expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy. According to Nani, the act robs the nation of resources that were needed for growth and development. He declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base of the Nigerian nation and improve revenue generation which was required for development.
Consequently, Nani made a case for policy reforms that would make it difficult for “capital flights” from occurring 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 that fuel IFFs. The discussants were unanimous in emphasising the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit flows.