• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Nigeria loses $17bn on illicit financial outflows through tax evasion – CISLAC

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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) says Nigeria loses an estimated $17 billion on illicit financial outflows through tax evasion, theft, laundering of corrupt proceeds and other crimes through companies with unclear ownership structures.

The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa, who said this at a press conference in Abuja, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Companies and Allied Matters (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Act 2020.

Musa said the CAMA when implemented would help the Nigerian treasury profit from windfall of tax revenues and other revenues’ leakages.

He noted that in the context of the shattered economy after the global pandemic, CAMA can single-handedly help take millions of Nigerians out of abject poverty.

According to the CISLAC Boss, until now, the absence of the enactment of the CAMA made it impossible to act on establishing a publicly available register of beneficial owners which is important in the fight against corruption.

“Financing the Nigerian fight against corruption and poverty is sabotaged continuously by financial secrecy, which erodes national sovereignty. Instead of funding ourselves from taxing business activity, we borrow money abroad and bankroll our budgets at unfavourable and unsustainable terms”, he said.

Musa explained that with the provision regarding the disclosure of persons with significant control in companies, CAMA has introduced transparency provision with an obligation for entities to disclose capacity in which shares are held, either as a beneficial owner or as a nominee of an interested person.

He urged the National Assembly to hasten their effort in other anti-corruption bills and present them to the President for his assent.

“CISLAC at different occasions called out both the Legislature and the Executive on the importance of this law, and we are thankful that we have it now. We want to extend our appreciation to the National assembly who speedily passed this law in the early days of the 9th assembly after suffering non-assent by the president in the 8th assembly.

“We urge governmental authorities to step up with establishing policies, tools and instruments, which will aid a speedy enactment of these provisions. It is important that this conduct is executed with political impartiality and professionalism. We commit that the civil society will monitor the implementation and will continue highlighting gaps and deficiencies.

“Sadly, we witness that many anti-corruption laws and policies are legally sound but are not complied with. This must not be the case for this legal provision! We will continue working with the National Assembly to ensure that proper civilian oversight and monitoring of this law is conducted.

“With passing CAMA, we joined the elite club in Africa next to Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Tunisia. Together with Nigeria, these countries introduced some kind of beneficial ownership-friendly legislation.

“We want to specifically loud the effort of the Registrar General – Alhaji Garba Abubarkar who has un-relentingly worked hand-in-hand with us on this issue since his days as the Director of Compliance at CAC till date”, Musa added.