The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has said that the government is determined to collaborate with other African countries to curb illicit financial flows.
She also reiterated her position that the government was focused on increasing its revenue generation to ensure sustainable economic growth.
The Minister, who said this on Monday while addressing the Global Parliamentary Conference as part of the activities at the Spring Meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund in Washington, called for greater African and international collaboration on curbing illicit financial flows to drive accelerated revenue growth and improved government efficiency.
Addressing senior representatives from the World Bank and IMF, as well as over 150 parliamentarians, Adeosun said, “The government is focused on resetting the Nigerian economy by addressing our traditional over-reliance on oil revenues and establishing the basis for sustainable non-oil revenue growth.
“To improve non-oil revenues, we have to address illicit capital flows. When stolen money is transferred from Nigeria, or other African countries, there are too few questions asked by those countries that receive the funds, but when we identify those funds as stolen and seek to recover them, there are too many questions being asked. There is money sitting in foreign bank accounts that we have spent over a decade trying to recover. That is money that could deliver significant value for Nigeria as we seek to increase spending on critical infrastructure and establish a basis for long term sustainable growth.
“I hope that the Automatic Exchange of Information scheme coming into force next year will be a step towards achieving greater transparency, but we need more collaboration amongst parliamentarians in Africa, and across the World to ensure that this situation improves and that recipient countries are held to account.”
Commenting on the domestic agenda to ensure significant reductions in ‘leakages’ of public funds, and improved efficiency in public expenditure, the Minister said, “We are going after those who have stolen our money. We have put in place a very successful whistle blower programme that is delivering results, and allows those who report illicit activity to receive up to 5 per cent of any funds that we recover.
“We are also significantly improving our financial management controls to ensure that it is considerably more difficult for public funds to be diverted. We have to do more though and that means collaboration with the legislature. We need tighter tax and financial reporting legislation and to ratify bilateral agreements so that our enforcement agencies are empowered to deliver the results that we need.”
The Minister will be attending a series of meetings over the coming days, including meetings with the World Bank to take forwards conversations about lending into strategic sectors of the economy as part of the administration’s focus on addressing Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit and accelerating implementation of critical projects.