Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday took over the streets of Abuja to demand an end to illicit financial flows from Africa.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, who led the solidarity match from the Unity Fountain to the Ministry of Finance, said that the match would serve as a wake-up call to all African leaders on the danger inherent over tax waivers given to multinationals who eventually invest their money in other countries, leaving the citizens impoverished.
“The challenges in our economy demands new thinking and also looking for opportunity that abound. The issue of tax justice have been an issue that we have been canvassing for over time, therefore this is a campaign to demand for tax justice.
“Africa is still in a strong dilemma and trap of dependency, poverty and want. We, the people believe that rather 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 shared prosperity. It is to this end that we have resolved to do this match and to demand that the Nigerian government act decisively on and around issues of tax justice, whilst also calling on her African sister governments to do same,” he said.
According to him, in 2015 the African Union High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows, convened by the AU Finance Ministers and chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, completed a comprehensive report on how revenue is leaving Africa illicitly.
He said that the report has since established that up to $60 billion is lost to Africa annually, and that as much as two-thirds of that amount is lost due to manipulation of commercial transactions rather than criminal activity or corruption.
That means that tax evasion and tax avoidance (e.g. using tax havens to shelter profits that would otherwise be taxed by African countries) are costing the continent up to $39 billion annually.
Wabba further noted that the report made practical suggestions on how African countries can reverse these negative flows.
He said that “African governments commit to review the national network of ‘double taxation treaties’(sometimes called agreements). On the surface, these treaties aim to ensure that a company does not get taxed twice on the same income. In practice, they often move taxation rights from source countries to residence countries, meaning from African countries to primarily developed countries and tax havens. While double taxation treaties are proposed by richer countries to poorer countries with the pretext that they encourage investment and trade, in practice their main effect is usually to take away taxation rights from developing countries, meaning that those countries receive less tax revenues from companies.”
The NLC suggested that the Nigerian government must resist the temptations and advice to undertake tax policies that would pass tax payment burdens on the poor.
“For instance, essential items such as food and medicines should not be taxed. Rather, we will encourage taxing of luxury goods, as well as suggest that government considers higher taxes on harmful goods such as cigarettes.”
He, however, urged the Nigerian government to continue to pursue asset recovery as loot by public and private officials and not accept regressive advice such as national assets sale.
Speaking further, Wabba called on the federal government to investigate and prosecute Nigerians found wanting in the recent Panama Papers leaks.
The director of Special Duties, Mr. Mohammed Kyary Dikwa, who received the workers, promised to deliver the letter containing the massage to the minister to ensure that its massage got to President Buhari.

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