The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called on African heads of states and government to work collectively to bring an end to illicit financial flows from the continent.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who led the solidarity match from the Unity Fountain in Abuja to the Ministry of Finance, said that the match will serve as a wakeup 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 demand 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 $50 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.
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 suggests that the Nigerian government must resist the temptations and advice to undertake tax policies that will 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 looted by public and private officials and not accept regressive advice such as national assets sale.
Speaking further, Wabba called on the FG to investigate and prosecute Nigerians found wanting from the recent Panama Papers leaks.
The Director 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 gets to President Buhari.
“That is why I thought that we should be able to bring the issue to your notice because two people died while the other two are still in the hospital. “
He said that without justices and fairness it would be difficult to ensure security, law and order as this was the only way to ensure peace and development in the country.
The IG said that the congress has documented evidences such as pictures and records, videos of what happened at the Government House on the fateful day.
He said that the congress has written to the Human Rights Commission , among others, for justice to prevail for those who lost their lives and also the injured.
Also, the TUC president, Mr Bobboi Kaigam, called on the IG to treat the issue comprehensively.
He said that those indicted should not be shielded by the state government.
“We hope to get to the end of this matter, so that our colleagues who were affected will know that justice has be served,” he said
It However urges the Federal Government to be holistic in the fight by extending its search lights to all areas of the economy including all Tertiary Institutions of Learning.