African Heads of State at the 31st AU Summit in Mauritania last week lamented that about 25 per cent of Africa’s average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reflects a huge drain on Africa’s productivity. They bemoaned that the continent loses about $148 billion annually to corruption.
The AU leaders, therefore, resolved to prevent more billions from being stolen by seeking to abolish banking secrecy and tax havens.
The leaders deliberated on a mechanism to return corruptly acquired funds, most of which are hidden in countries that allow the practices.
National Daily learnt that Senegalese tax inspector, Elimane Pouye, articulated that the fight against corruption in Africa requires more than just statements at international summits.
He remarked that “these measures are usually just a facade;” noting that “donors put pressure on states to show they are fighting corruption so that they can receive aid.”
It was noted that offshore entities are not illegal, but banking secrecy in places like Mauritius and Luxembourg can be used to evade taxes and hide illegally obtained cash.
Elimane Kane, head of LEGS-Africa, a think-tank promoting ethical governance across the continent, was gathered to have decried that too few African heads of state have taken a stand against corruption.
Kane had remarked that Paul Kagame has done good work in Rwanda; but there are many African leaders who take advantage of tax havens.
It was recalled that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has been shining light on the shadowy world of offshore banking with the publication of leaked documents known as the Panama and Paradise Papers.
This year, the ICIJ worked with a network of West African journalists to study approximately 30 million leaked documents, now known as the West Africa Leaks.
Their findings revealed the secret companies and bank accounts of some of the region’s most powerful politicians and business leaders.