1 May 2013

South Africa: 'Liberian Government Committed to Working With the Panel,' Says Chairman Thabo Mbeki

Photo: Vanguard
Banks in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the High Level Panel on Illicit Flows from Africa and former South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki says the Liberian Government has committed itself to working with the Panel to enhance its work including the necessary recommendations to reduce the billions of United States dollars illegally siphoned from the Africa.

"We feel very inspired to have come to work so closely with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her Government, National Legislature, Civil Society, Private Sector, and others to try to think together and develop plans to respond to this problem," Chairman Mbeki said.

According to an Executive Mansion release, Mr. Mbeki made the assertion when he and President Sirleaf addressed a press stakeout at the end of a four-day visit to Liberia in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry.

The High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, established following a resolution of the 4th Joint Annual Meetings of the ECA/AU Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Africa, is undertaking extensive and in-depth studies in a number of countries that will shed light on the extent and ramifications of illicit financial flows on national economies as well as on the human impacts of the phenomenon. Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Algeria are few of the countries that have been selected for the study.

Briefing journalists, Mr. Mbeki said Africa loses about US$50 billion a year as money and capital taken out of the continent by illegal means; estimating that on an aggregate, Liberia may be losing about US$1 billion annually through the illegal export of capital.

He said, Africa, most especially Liberia emerging from a civil war, need large volumes of money to invest in job creation, construction of schools, health, infrastructure, and agriculture; adding that without these resources it will not be possible to successfully address the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment.

Mr. Mbeki attributed the flight of billions of dollars from Africa to corruption and money laundering and suggested that governments put in place necessary anti-corruption institutions and legislations which actually functions. He praised the Liberian Government for passing the bill on money laundering as well as setting up a Financial Intelligence Unit to track these illegal acts. "These kinds of institutions and legislations are critically important," he said, adding, "Executive authorities on the continent must have these instruments to intervene and other state-organs that deal with such in order to have an impact."

He indicated that the Panel's visit is an initial assessment aimed at studying the scale of the problem in Liberia, its relevance to the country, what mechanisms are in place and the additional instruments Government needs to curb the illegal flow. On behalf of the Panel, Mr. Mbeki thanked President Sirleaf for the hospitality.

Earlier, President Sirleaf welcomed Mr. Mbeki and members of the Panel to Liberia to discuss the country's challenges, experiences and potential in addressing the issue for which the Panel had been established.

The Liberian leader also used the occasion to thank the former South African President for the role he and his country played in securing peace for Liberia to enable it move along with its economic growth and reconstruction.

During his stay in Liberia, the High Level Panel held discussions with President Sirleaf and members of her Economic Management Team, Civil Society Organizations, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, the Liberia Business Association and the Liberia Bankers Association. He also addressed a Joint Session of the 53rd National Legislature at the Capitol Building.

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