How do you even begin to track, stop and retrieve illicit financial flows from Africa? The Consortium on Illicit Financial Flows tasked with implementing the AU’s High Level Panel recommendations believes that, because of its complexity, it is essential to develop the building blocks of understanding the use of key legislation and regulations that limit the opportunities for IFFs. This is why this group of 14 organisations has organised a capacity building dialogue targeted at members of parliament of African countries from 9 to 10 October 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Illicit financial flows from Africa are large and increasing. By many accounts, about US$50 billion is taken out of Africa yearly due to trade mispricing. These constitute funds that would otherwise be used for development. Besides, African gross domestic product would be at least 16 per cent higher were it not for illicit financial outflow, based on conservative estimates. It is therefore crucial to assist African countries to develop the capacity to track, stop and return them.
MPs are an essential stakeholder in holding the executive accountable. They are also responsible to ensure legislative frameworks support equitable, accountable and transparent tax systems. Such laws are important as a basis for effective and efficient domestic resource mobilisation. It has been recognised that weak legislation, outdated regulations and lack of transparency posed a risk to governments’ domestic resource mobilisation efforts.
The Consortium on Illicit Financial Flows formed in Accra, Ghana in November 2015 is tasked with implementing the AU’s High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows Report’s recommendations. The Consortium consists of 14 Organisations with representation on the Illicit Financial Flows Working Group (IWG) which reports to the Consortium. This dialogue is a joint activity of four members of the Consortium:
- African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)
- African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF)
- Tax Justice Network Africa (TJN-A)
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
The objectives of the dialogue are to bring to the attention of MPs the various risks to tax bases that are lodged in weak legislation, outdated regulations and the lack of innovative measures to combat IFFs; sensitise MPs to the various loopholes present in African countries that allow companies and individuals to strip out profits and assets offshore; and to discuss a range of real-life cases that illustrate IFFs and solutions available to prevent IFFs.
It is also to inform MPs of the tools available to combat illicit financial flows and to encourage MPs to advocate for these products to be ratified in their parliaments. In the end, it is to build the individual capacities of the MPs of African countries as well as develop their skills in the areas of legislation and oversight to better contribute to track, stop and retrieve illicit financial flows from Africa.
The primary target audience is those members who belong to budget, finance and public accounts committees. Members from justice and trade committees will also benefit from the dialogue and its range of cross-cutting issues. Lastly, members belonging to regional parliamentary groupings are welcomed to attend the dialogue. The dialogue is aimed at 40 members of parliament from across the continent and will be conducted in English, French and Portuguese.
ATAF (African Tax Administration Forum) is a platform to improve the performance of tax administration in Africa. Better tax administration will enhance economic growth, increase accountability of the state to its citizens, and more effectively mobilise domestic resources. Now in its eighth year of operation and headquartered in Pretoria, ATAF seeks to:
- Improve the capacity of African tax administrations to achieve their revenue objectives;
- Advance the role of taxation in African governance and state building;
- Provide a voice for African tax administrations; and
- Develop and support partnerships between African countries and development partners.