ActionAid Nigeria has called on the government to step up efforts to stamp out tax evasion by the elites.
This is contained in a statement on Thursday signed by Lola Ayanda, Communications Coordinator, ActionAid Nigeria.
ActionAid recalled that it had been five years since the Panama Papers exposed the dodgy tax dealings of a Panama based law firm and its clients, and eight years since the G20 mandated the BASE Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) process, intended to end tax avoidance and satisfy people’s demands for tax justice and fairness.
The aid agency said that billionaires increased their wealth by US $3.9tn in the first year of the pandemic, while global workers lost earnings of US $3.7tn.
ActionAid said that with rising inequality, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, states needed fair and progressive tax rules more than ever.
Julia Sánchez, Secretary General of ActionAid International, said, “It is totally unacceptable for governments to claim they can’t afford healthcare, quality education or a green transition away from polluting fossil fuels, when they are allowing such vast resources to be looted by wealthy elites and corrupt politicians.
” These dodgy practices are facilitated by banks and the financial sector which serve as the guardians of secrecy in tax havens.
“The Pandora Papers are set to expose further tax scandals, featuring decision-makers using shoddy tax havens, and more loopholes in tax legislation that politicians will pretend are mistakes to be rectified, rather than there by design.
“This highlights more than ever the newd for serious action on tax justice, including improved tax transparency,” the statement quoted Sanchez as saying.
Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, noted that “From Nigeria alone, it is estimated that in the last three decades, 179 million pounds was carted out of the country to offshore accounts”.
Obi said that part of the popwealth was used to purchase 233 properties in the United Kingdom.
“Not only does 179 million represent wealth that would have potentially been taxed in Nigeria, but it represents the much-needed capital that Nigeria lost to offshore accounts.
“What is even more worrisome is that the pandora papers exposed that it is the most influential Nigerians and government officials that have been at the forefront of this capital flights,” Obi said.
ActionAid called for public registers of beneficial ownership, in all jurisdictions, accounts and entities, to stop crooks setting up companies to hide wealth in tax havens.
The aid agency said it was mandatory for countries to exchange vital information to help stop the practice.
It noted that public country-by-country reporting of corporate tax payments and key financial data would help improve transparency and reduce the secrecy that allowed these loopholes.
It added that a global minimum corporate tax rate of 25 per cent would also be an effective way of stopping potential tax revenue being hidden in tax havens.