NLC writes Buhari, demands end to illicit financial flow from Nigeria

Ayuba Waba

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has written President Muhammadu Buhari; demanding immediate halt to all forms of illicit financial flows from the country and Africa as a whole.

In a letter dated October 12, 2016 and signed by the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the congress made a demand that Nigeria government should act decisively on issues of tax justice and also called on other African governments to do same.

The letter was handed over to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, after a joint rally by the NLC and its civil society allies in support of halting illicit financial flows from Africa, held in Abuja. The rally commenced at the Abuja Unity Fountain, from where it moved to the Ministry of Finance.

Wabba, who signed the letter on behalf of the Nigerian workers and their national and civil society allies, regretted that Africa is still in a strong dilemma and trap of dependency, poverty and want.

However, the NLC President said “We, the people believe that rather than lament, we will continue to work with our governments to explore and exploit imaginative ways and means to overcome these limitations holding us back from attaining share prosperity. It is to this end that we have resolved to do this march and to demand that Nigerian government act decisively on and around issues of tax justice, whilst also calling on her African sister governments to do same.”

He reminded President Buhari that in 2015, the African Union High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows convened by the AU Finance Ministers, and chaired by South Africa President’ Thabo Mbeki, had a comprehensive report on how revenue is leaving Africa illicitly.

The report, according to Wabba has established that up to $60 billion is lost to Africa every year, and two-thirds of that amount is lost due to manipulation of commercial transactions rather than criminal activities or corruption.

He pointed out that tax evasion and tax avoidance, such as using tax havens to shelter profits that would otherwise be taxed by African countries, are costing the continent up to $39 billion annually.

The NLC president said “We know that stopping the financial bleeding of Africa’s resources from illicit financial flows activities will provide our governments with the needed public revenues that could pay for basic public needs such as education, portable public water and health care. The economic situation that Nigeria currently finds herself suggests she would seriously consider adopting pragmatic and progressive policy options.”

To this end, the congress demanded that Nigeria government should be committed to genuine and effective implementation of the recommendations of the AU report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa.

The NLC also demanded that the government aggressively pursue the creation and sustainability of a progressive tax base as a sure and steady way of domestic resources mobilisation. This, Wabba, said should include mass creation of jobs that will provide the opportunity for the expansion of the tax base.

He also called on the Nigerian and African governments to commit to ensure that companies doing business pay their fair share of tax on the economic activities that takes place within our jurisdiction.

Wabba urged President Buhari and other leaders to strictly limit the use of discretionary incentives and provide transparent explanations and parliamentary reviews of incentives when they are used.

He also called on them to cancel tax treaties with tax havens and stop signing new treaties with tax havens and developed nations, adding that Nigerian government and other African governments should undertake national and regional coordination to reduce harmful tax competition across borders.

More importantly’ the congress advised the government to resist the temptation and advices to undertake tax policies that will pass tax payment burdens on the poor; while it urged the government to continue to pursue asset recovery as loot by public and private officials.

The congress also urged Nigerian government not to accept regressive advice such as the sales of national assets; and asked President Buhari to investigate and prosecute Nigerians found wanting from the recent Panama Paper leaks.

“We trust that the Nigerian Government will take the lead in Africa’s efforts to curtail dependency on aid, provide better public services to our people, and gain stronger control of our path to sustainable development,” Wabba said.