The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has called for greater collaboration to combat illicit financial flows from Africa in order to deliver sustainable economic growth in the region.
Addressing the Global Parliamentary Conference which had in attendance parliamentarians from around the world at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Spring meetings in Washington DC, the minister also stressed the need for strong executive and legislative collaboration.
She reiterated that the federal government was focused on resetting the Nigerian economy by addressing its traditional over-reliance on oil revenues and establishing the basis for sustainable non-oil revenue growth.
“To improve non-oil revenues, we have to address illicit capital flows. When stolen money is transferred from Nigeria, or other African countries, there are too few questions asked by those countries that receive the funds, but when we identify those funds as stolen and seek to recover them, there are too many questions being asked.
“There is money sitting in foreign bank accounts that we have spent over a decade trying to recover. That is money that could deliver significant value for Nigeria as we seek to increase spending on critical infrastructure and establish a basis for long term sustainable growth.
“I hope that the Automatic Exchange of Information scheme coming into force next year will be a step towards achieving greater transparency, but we need more collaboration amongst parliamentarians in Africa, and across the world to ensure that this situation improves and that recipient countries are held to account,” Adeosun added.
Commenting on the domestic agenda to ensure significant reductions in ‘leakages’ of public funds, and improved efficiency in public expenditure, the minister said the federal government had been going after those who had stolen from government coffers.
She said: “We have put in place a very successful whistle blower programme that is delivering results, and allows those who report illicit activity to receive up to five per cent of any funds that we recover. We are also significantly improving our financial management controls to ensure that it is considerably more difficult for public funds to be diverted.
“We have to do more though and that means collaboration with the legislature. We need tighter tax and financial reporting legislation and to ratify bilateral agreements so that our enforcement agencies are empowered to deliver the results that we need.
“To create the basis for long term growth, we need to invest urgently in our infrastructure. Achieving energy sufficiency and achieving agriculture and food security are two of the execution priorities we have identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and we are looking forward to advancing our ongoing conversations with multilateral lenders on these priorities over the coming days as we look to accelerate implementation.”