Nigeria, global bodies move to stop illicit financial flows in Afric
igeria and global organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group, have agreed on high-level collaborations with Nigeria and other African countries to stop Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) in Africa.
This was a major resolution reached at the ongoing Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) Conference at the United Nations in New York.
According to a statement signed by Special Adviser Media & Communications, to the finance minister, Oluyinka Akintunde, the Head of OECD Global Forum on Exchange of Information, Ms. Monica Bhatia, who disclosed this on Thursday at the PCT Conference, stated that automatic information sharing had been adopted as part of proactive steps to curtail the IFFs from the African continent to developed countries..
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically says that we must significantly reduce illicit financial flows by the year 2030. A lot of efforts are ongoing to achieve this and support developing countries to end the IFFs,” Bhatia said.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in her address at the conference, affirmed that the IFF was a problem that urgently requires global focus and actions towards the realisation of significant developmental progress for Nigeria and other developing countries.
Adeosun said, “The IFFs are driven by the desire to hide illicit wealth, hide the proceeds away from the public eye and law enforcement agencies and also conceal the ways and means by which illicit wealth was created. This makes it difficult to trace the associated money flow.
“Developing countries, including Nigeria, collect significantly lower levels of tax, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), than wealthier States. This is partly because the income and wealth being created, is taken out of the country illegally, without being taxed.”
Quoting the report of former South African President Mbeki’s High-Level Panel on IFFs, the Minister said Africa loses US$80 billion annually to IFFs, with a significant percentage of the loss coming from Nigeria.
She disclosed that the Nigerian Government had engaged a leading international Asset Tracing and Investigation Agency (Kroll), to trace and track illicit flows and assets.
In addition, she said Nigeria had signed the Multilateral Competent Authority on Common Reporting Standards, which allows for exchange of financial account information.
The country, according to her, is expected to effect the first exchange by 2019 as soon as the domestic legal framework was completed.
She added, “Nigeria has adopted the Common Reporting Standards and the Addis Tax initiative aimed at improving the fairness, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the tax system.
“Furthermore, as part of open government partnership Nigeria has included in the national action plan a commitment to establish a public register of beneficial owners. To this end, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the custodian of Nigeria’s company registry, is pursuing relevant amendments to the Companies and Allied Matters Act to comply with global standards.”
As part of measures to tackle IFFs, Adeosun called for the tightening of Nigeria’s tax codes and tax laws that encourage tax avoidance as well as strengthening of the tax system to make it more efficient.
Advocating more responsibility on the part of destination countries of illicit financial flows, the Minister advised that beneficial ownership registers should be established to allow authorities track money in financial investigations involving suspect accounts/assets held by corporate vehicles.
She further called for the elimination of safe havens that provide incentives for transfer of stolen assets and illicit financial flows abroad, and also the development of a supportive, efficient and speedy process for returning assets to originating countries.
WB approves $486m to address Nigeria’s electricity challenges
By Benjamin Umuteme
The World Bank has approved a facility loan of $486 million for rehabilitation and upgrading of electricity transmission substations and lines.
The investments under the Nigeria Electricity Transmission Project will increase the power transfer capacity of the transmission network and enable distribution companies supply consumers with additional power. Together with other investments and policy measures, the project will contribute to ensuring adequate and reliable electricity supply that is necessary for Nigeria’s continued economic development.
It will also support private sector participation, capacity development and better governance in Transmission Company of Nigeria and sector institutions.
“The Federal Government is committed to addressing the challenges in the public-owned transmission network and the financing being provided by the World Bank under the Nigeria Electricity Transmission Project power sector underlines this commitment. The Federal Government anticipates that private sector financing in the privately-owned segments of the value-chain will complement the government’s efforts in bringing better quality service to citizens,” said H.E. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Minister for Power, Works and Housing.
The project is part of the Power Sector Recovery Program (PSRP) by the federal government, which is a comprehensive package of policy, legal, regulatory, operational and financial interventions that will restore the financial viability of power sector. The measures that will be implemented through 2021 are aimed at improving transparency and service delivery and re-establishing investor confidence in the sector.
“The Nigeria Electricity Transmission Project will help address key bottlenecks in the transmission network and improve access to affordable and reliable electricity service to citizens,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria.
FCMB commits to growth of media industry
By Benjamin Umuteme
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has reaffirmed its commitment to support the Nigerian media industry by empowering its practitioners with the requisite knowledge that promotes the values of professionalism and ethics in the discharge of their duties. This, according to the Bank, is as a result of the critical role the media plays in national development.
The bank gave the assurance at a media parley recently with Abuja based media executives and correspondents based at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
In his address at the event, the Group Head, Corporate Affairs of FCMB, Mr. Diran Olojo, explained that it was part of the Bank’s initiatives to further promote excellence, build capacity of media practitioners, spur ideas, deepen relationships and appreciate their contributions over the years to the success of the Bank since it was established 34 years ago.
According to him, ‘’at FCMB we recognise the strategic importance and role of the media not just in promoting our business, but in the areas of agenda setting, providing solutions and dissemination of quality and balanced communication that drives national unity and development in a sustainable manner. As an institution anchored on the culture of excellence and professionalism, we will continue to champion and execute initiatives that would assist the Nigerian media industry and journalists perform optimally as the fourth estate of the realm and key influencers. We therefore urge our media practitioners to reinvent themselves and expand the frontiers of their knowledge by adopting innovative skills that would help them meet the dynamics of the profession while upholding due diligence and ethics that conform with global best practices’’.
Mr. Olojo told the gathering that as an inclusive lender, the Bank will continue to offer and deliver cutting edge solutions that provide the best customer experience.
He added that the Bank is resilient and focused on sustaining the momentum of its position as a top financial institution by supporting initiatives that would enhance the growth and achievement of the personal and business aspirations of its customers as well as the overall prosperity of Nigeria