Photo Caption: Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Head of OECD Global Forum on Exchange of Information, Ms. Monica Bhatia; and Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, William Babatunde Fowler, during the PCT Conference organised by the the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund and United Nations in New York on Thursday, 15th February, 2018.
Against the backdrop of complicity by Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in tax frauds, at a time Nigeria desperately seeks to grow its ratio of tax revenue to Gross Domestic Products from the abysmal 6%, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun says the Federal Government is weighing the option of suing such companies in their home countries.
Speaking at the just concluded Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) conference in New York, she urged the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to see the tax avoidance actions of multinational companies as corrupt practices and designate as such.
A statement by Oluyinka Akintunde, the Minister’s Special Adviser Media & Communications, described the PCT as an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and United Nations.
Designating tax crimes as foreign corrupt practices, she believes would support such efforts, lamenting a situation where defaulting MNCs hide behind slow legislative processes to avoid doing what is right in Nigeria, a nations from which they derived significant income.
“There is absolute need for a complete understanding of how these Multinational Corporations (MNCs) behave in Nigeria and developing countries, many operate a completely different standard in Africa to what obtains globally,” Adeosun said.
Nigeria, according to Adeosun, is taking a number of measures internally and also taking full advantage of international initiatives to tackle the problem.
Such internal measures, she said, “include tightening financial controls and surveillance, adoption of the National Tax Policy with its commitment to regular revisions of tax laws and the ongoing tax amnesty programme, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).”
The Minister stated further that the Nigerian Government would use every available avenue to improve its revenue generation and tax collection and credited the United Nations with putting the issue of Illicit Financial Flows at the forefront of the fight against IFF.
She noted that that it was ‘entirely appropriate that we are discussing this issue in the United Nations Headquarters, as this is a United Nations sized problem’.
On the issue of Illicit Financial Flows, she emphasised that Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari, was ‘taking strong action and was determined to reverse their impact’.
The Minister explained that Nigeria was doubly affected by illicit financial flows as a result of corruption and tax evasion, recalling the Thabo Mbeki report, which found that IFFs from Africa exceeded the volume of foreign aid into Africa, adding that Nigeria was found to be the most adversely affected.
“The Nigerian Government is taking responsibility for preventing illicit flows but the range of measures used and the sheer volumes are such that the recipient nations must also take measures to discourage the flows into their countries by asking more questions,” Adeosun remarked.
She lauded the recent initiative by the United Kingdom Government with Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) and requested that more countries adopt such measures.
She added that Nigeria was studying the options for introducing similar measures in the country.