Morkporkpor Anku, GNA
Accra, May 30, GNA - The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), in collaboration with Tax Justice Network-Ghana and with support from its NGO partners, has launched the “Stop the Bleeding” campaign to stop Illicit Financial Flows (IFFS) in Ghana.
The campaign is to create awareness among the public on the huge amount of money being lost as a result of IFFs and to push for national, sub-regional, continental and global policy action to address the challenge of illicit outflows.
IFFs essentially refer to the masked movement of money, and other forms of wealth, from one national jurisdiction to another, with the intention to deceive the relevant national authorities and avoid paying compulsory dues.
Mr Vitus A. Azeem, the Chairman of the Tax Justice Coalition, speaking at the launch, said they recognised that IFFs were a mere symptom of a much bigger structural problem of unjust economic and power relations between Africa and the developed world that has historically impoverished Africa and enriched the West.
Ghana and other African countries lost huge sums of money annually through illicit financial outflows that could otherwise be used to finance development on the continent with an estimated 41.3 billion dollars in financial outflows annually, more than the total development aid that came to the continent.
He said the emerging global consensus around illicit flows was positive and indeed created an important hook and rallying point to discussing Africa’s development challenges especially the domestic resources mobilisation component.
He said one of the notable findings of the high level panel led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki was that illicit outflows from Africa were largely and increasing at an alarming rate of 20.2 per cent per year.
The report observed that the dependence of African economies on natural resources extraction makes them particularly vulnerable to IFFs and singling out the issue of weak national and regional capacities as a major obstacle in efforts to curb illicit outflows.
Mr Azeem, therefore, called on government to address the challenge posed by data scarcity and support tax authorities within the various sub-regions to work towards the creation of a common database that will eventually lead to the establishment of a continent-wide database on trade in goods and services and shared by all countries on the continent.
He urged government to give fresh impetus to Ghana’s public sector reform programme to focus on institutional collaboration and automatic exchange of information among related entities.
“Government must give better effect to the exercise of Parliamentary oversight to curb circumstances that undermine its own processes and to properly scrutinize and vet contracts in the interest of the citizen and stop the bleeding of the state,” he added.
He said Government must strengthen the Financial Intelligence Centre and Economic Organised Crime Office to conduct or collaborate with other institutions to undertake researches into IFFs phenomena in Ghana and produce recommendations for appropriate actions.
Mr Azeem called on Government to strengthen its interest in petroleum operations with the addition of Petroleum Commission in the Joint Management Committee to reinforce government interest.
He urged government to design, implement and monitor a real-time customs and trade system in commodities and Benchmark Costing in Petroleum.
He said there was the need for a shift in the taxation of minerals away from a profit-based system towards a production-base tax system.
Mr Abdallah Ali-Nakyea, Lecturer University of Ghana, said the country had no excuse not to develop, if the loopholes were not blocked to stop the illicit financial flows.
He called on the media to follow up on stories done to get the needed results for national development.
“We have very beautiful laws in this country but implementation is the problem,” he added.