Official corruption, major enabler of illicit financial flows – FIRS

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Official corruption, major enabler of illicit financial flows – FIRS

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had said that corruption and abuse of office by civil servants and political public office holders remained a major enabler of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from the country.

The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, stated this in Abuja on Wednesday at virtual meeting on the review of “Report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Relation to Tax.”

Nami said that unwholesome practices of multinational, financial institutions and oil and gas companies remained the biggest component of IFFs in Nigeria.

“We are striving to reduce the money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit flow of money from Nigeria and effects of beneficial ownership.

“As it is causing economic downturn which has an unprecedented effect on the economy and lives of Nigerians,” he said.

Nami explained that as of September 2019, the amount recovered from defaulting tax payers was about N37 billion.

According to him,  companies and partnership not paying full taxes are 6,722 while those to enforce taxes are 4500.

He, however, said that, “Stiffer laws and regulations will be enacted to deter future IFF actions by people determined to engage in such acts most especially in the new trend of virtual currencies which is a new technology on illicit financial flows.”

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said that taxation had played a strategy role in the economy of states hence the need for the gathering.

He added that for Nigeria, taxation was more important as the country was struggling to de-emphasise the importance and relevance and independence on oil revenue for revenue from taxation.

“We must recognise the rapidly changing World and the need to be on top of our games as a nation.

“The Tax man of today if he must remain relevant must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.

“Martin Luther King Jr said ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

“We must not only speak out but we should ACT now.

“We will use the recommendation to push for policy reforms that will help block the loss of financial revenue to our country and where there is a need for corruption in the commercial transaction,” he said.

A discussant at the Occasion, Mr Taiwo Oyedele of the Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader, said to tackle IFFs, Nigeria needs to start from the basics which include the use of data, intelligence to follow the money; then build up on it.

Oyedele said that the country needs coordinated, complementary strategies for shadow/black economy, price inflation, corruption and other crimes.

According to him, IFFs make legitimate businesses uncompetitive and puts honest people at a disadvantage, adding that lack of consequences for bad behaviours is essentially an incentive to do more.

Oyedele said that tackling IFFs would expand Nigeria’s tax base and improve revenue generation – consequently reduce budget deficits, debt accumulation and debt service cost.

He said that beyond revenue generation, if successfully implemented, measures to curb IFFs would also help to tackle funding of terrorism, political instability, other forms of insecurity and crimes.

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