24 October 2017

Nigeria: Tax Abuse - Finland Tasks Nigeria, Others to Boost Tax Powers

The Minister of Foreign Trade and Development of Finland, Mr Kai Mykkanen, has called on Nigeria and other development countries to invest on improving the capabilities of their tax authorities to tackle tax abuse.

Mykkanen made the call on Tuesday at the Seventh Financial Transparency Conference in Helsinki, Finland.

The conference was organised by the Financial Transparency Coalition, a global civil society coalition focused on issues of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and Kepa, a Finish NGO platform for global development.

Mykkanen spoke on the need to develop the capacity of tax authorities in the poorest countries to enable them to stand up and use their authorities when it comes to taxation negotiations with multinational corporations.

"If the least developed countries could increase their tax revenues by at least one per cent of their GDP, that would cover all international development aid provided for these developing countries.

"Finland was active in promoting the idea that developed countries should double the amount they contribute to help least developed countries improve their taxation capabilities when we were preparing the Addis Ababa agreement a few years ago.

"In our own development policy, though we have very scarce resources, we are trying to increase significantly our aid to help these countries to be more capable to recognise and block tax abuses in their jurisdictions," he said.

He talked on the need for countries to come together to ensure swift and comprehensive information sharing on individuals and companies hiding assets in other countries.

"In Europe and among the OECD countries, sharing of information has become quite revolutionary compared to what it was 10 years ago.

"From 2017, we have an automatic information sharing within EU tax authorities and also with other OECD and non OECD countries.

"For example, Finnish taxation authorities will for the first time get automatic information from tax jurisdiction in over 100 countries, which covers most of the so-called tax havens.

"However, there still remains a lot to do to cover global scope, but it is an achievement because this is something that 10 years ago, we would only have been dreaming about," he said.

Mykkanen also called for the urgent need for legislative action to block policy leakages, making it possible for multinational companies to transfer their profit base from one country to another, to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Also, the chairman of Kepa, Mr Pertti Majanen, in his address, talked on the need to stop tax leakages to improve domestic resource mobilisation for economic and social development.

"Developing countries loose as much as one trillion dollars in illicit financial flows and 100 billion dollars due to inadequate tax planning and related activities.

"We cannot achieve the SDGs without addressing the challenges of illicit financial flows. IFFs is also a human rights issue as well," he said

Majanen also tasked CSOs to not relent in promoting and advocating for global financial transparency in the operation of multinational operations and the ownership of companies.

The 7th Financial Transparency Conference brings together civil society, government officials, journalists and policy experts to discuss the problem of illicit financial flows for two days.

Participants from Africa, Europe, America and Asia are to also brainstorm on new ways to combat the effect of IFFs on growth and development in countries by igniting debates with a variety of stakeholders.

Some of the discussions would be on issues like financing for development, the role of gatekeepers to the financial sector, bringing transparency to company ownership and public reporting for multinational corporations.(NAN)

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