CSOs float network to combat illicit financial flows in Nigeria

Two Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) — Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA), and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), on Wednesday floated a platform to combat illicit financial flows in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the platform known as the African Parliamentary Network on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) and Taxation (APNIFFT), aims at combating illicit financial flows in the country.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director, CISLAC, said that the platform being coordinated by TJNA provided a forum for African members of parliament to join efforts and chart a pan-African roadmap to tackle the challenges of IFFs and tax injustices.

“This is because IFFs and tax injustices have continued to drain the much-needed domestic resources to propel Africa’s development objectives as outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063,” he said.

He said that the inauguration of the Nigerian caucus would provide a coordinated structure that would enable members to collectively drive legislative interventions to curb IFFs and promote Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM).

“IFFs threatens economic stability and development, and Africa has been on the receiving end of the effects for a long time, like many countries of the continent, Nigeria with its large market and population is faced with its large share of this act of corruption.

“It is estimated that about $90 billion is lost annually to illicit financial flows in Africa, enabled by trade mis-invoicing, tax evasion among others, and Nigeria alone reportedly accounts for 20 per cent of this figure,” he said.

Rafsanjani said that with already dwindling resources for Africa to sufficiently fund its development needs and the struggle to mobilise domestic resources, IFFs has led to even more excessive losses from the continent.

He said that this is making African countries poorer and poorer and undermining economic growth and development efforts in African countries by reducing the funds available for public services, infrastructure, and poverty reduction.

“In all honesty, the global north can do better if it truly desires to empower Africa and self-fund its development. Rather than promote Africa’s dependence on foreign aid, the West can start to truly help by halting, punishing, and repatriating illicit outflows from Africa.

“But Africa cannot afford to fold its hands and wait for the West to fight her battle. Africa must take the battle against IFFs very seriously.

“It is in this light that initiatives like APNIFFT and other efforts on the continent to combat IFFs must be appreciated and supported to succeed,” he said.

Rather than promote Africa’s dependence on foreign aid, the West can start to truly help by halting, punishing, and repatriating illicit outflows from Africa.

Promoting accountability

Ms Ndidi Ashu, the Lead Monitoring Evaluation and Knowledge Management, TJNA, said the network is committed to promoting accountability and progressive taxation in Africa.

Ashu said the network works in alignment with the African Union Agenda 2063 through key thematic areas comprising tax and international financial architecture, tax and investments tax and natural resources governance and tax and equity.

“We collaborate with leading researchers, policymakers, campaigners and CSOs to drive comprehensive change in tax policies, challenge detrimental investment practices, enhance international tax transparency, and restore African countries as favourites over natural resources,” she said.

Ashu said that APNIFFT has been inaugurated in 43 countries so far and would continue to partner with members of parliaments across the continent to address IFFs and domestic resource mobilisation challenges.

Ms Josephine Drabo, the West Africa Regional Coordinator, APNIFFT, said IFFs was detrimental to African countries’ continent and damaging.

Drabo said the concept of APNIFFT identified the importance of continental collaboration and networking, as well as the strategic roles of parliamentarians in championing the campaign against IFFs.

“Illicit financial flows are like a snake in the ocean and we need several hands on-board to be able to catch it,” she said

Dr Khanyisele Tshabalala, Chairperson, APNIFFT, said the amount lost in IFFs if curtailed would aid in building a developed continent and countries, adding that the aim is to have APNIFFT in all the African countries to build a sustainable economy for the continent.

“The fight against IFFs has to translate into the daily lives of every citizen in the continent.

“People are protesting it, amazing the kind of messages they send, we can’t buy bread, we can’t buy milk, the economy is hard, we lost our houses, times are hard for Africans.

“That is why this is crucial, and it is time to rise and address it,” she said. (NAN)

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