Civil Society Experts devise 14 steps to combat IFFs

By Abubakar Jimoh

A group of civil society experts has identified 14 holistic steps for African Leaders to curtail the endemic Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) resulting in monumental financial losses on the continent.

The group made this known in a recent statement issued as national leaders converged at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa to discuss issues of critical importance affecting the growth and development of the continent.

The experts’ positions entitled “Accelerated Agenda for Addressing Illicit Financial Flows in Africa” comes at a time where there is vacuum in global leadership on the issues of IFFs. The 14 point agenda integrates fundamental political and institutional steps that African governments and African multilateral agencies can take to curb IFFs.

The experts said: “Robbing the African continent of more than $70 billion per year, IFFs represent one of the largest problems facing Africa today. The international community has already recognized IFFs as a major impediment to development, incorporating reduction of IFFs into the Financing for Development Conference’s Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Likewise, the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa published a watershed report on the subject in 2015, and the ambitious African Union Agenda 2063 highlights the importance of eliminating illicit flows as a key way to increase domestic resource mobilization.”

While IFFs are corrosive to development efforts and curtail the ability to capture domestic resources, they identified domestic resource mobilization as the most crucial ingredient in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. “It will require energetic and concerted action from governments to fix the problem and the Accelerated IFF Agenda identifies effective steps to kick-start the process”.

The experts said one way in which the Accelerated IFF Agenda could address governance and accountability issues on the continent was inclusion of IFF-measures in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) by African leaders to clearly articulate their position against IFFs.

“The AU has taken a lead role in recognizing the problem of IFFs on the continent. It can take a step further by including IFF-measures in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM),”they noted.

Identifying IFFs as phenomena associating with corruption, the group called for open procurement systems, using common and accessible approaches like the Open Contracting Data Standard to “ensure that government is not contributing to the theft of its people’s future”.

The group of experts representing organizations based in Africa and the United States include: Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Center (CISLAC),Nigeria; Crystal Simeoni, Policy Lead – Tax and International Financial Architecture, Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A), Kenya; Donald Deya,
Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU), Tanzania; Donald Ideh,
Project Director, Nigeria Anti-Corruption and Criminal Justice Reform Fund, TrustAfrica, Nigeria; Heather Lowe, Legal Counsel & Director of Government Affairs, Global Financial Integrity, USA; Liz Confalone, Policy Counsel, Global Financial Integrity, USA; Jason Rosario Braganza, Deputy Executive Director, Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A), Kenya; Jean Mballa Mballa, Directeur, Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement Endogène et Communautaire (CRADEC), Cameroon; and Raymond Baker,
President, Global Financial Integrity, USA.

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