Kenyan head-quartered Tax Justice Network Africa has expressed concerns corona virus pandemic could spark a surge in the scale and scope of illicit financial flows.
TJNA says the overwhelming onslaught of the deadly bug has distracted authorities, a situation that could create lapse in oversight and a spike in corruption activities at border posts.
“COVID-19 has disrupted the way of doing things. With the onslaught of the global corona virus pandemic, there are concerns that the scale and scope of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) could be increasing,” said TJNA Executive Director, Alvin Mosioma.
Trade misinvoicing, smuggling and tax evasion are key forms of illicit financial flows in most developing countries.
The latest trade-related Illicit financial flows report by Global Financial Integrity shows that trade misinvoicing is a persistent problem across developing countries, resulting in potentially massive revenue losses.
It poses a great risk to most countries struggling to mobilize domestic resources to achieve the internationally-agreed UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, TJNA, a pan-African organisation that promotes just taxation seeks to help mitigate and reverse adverse trade-related illicit financial flows during the pandemic through a 10 day capacity building programme that has kicked off today .
“While authorities focus on the pandemic, other actors should not be distracted,” said Mosioma.
The organisation is hosting a virtual training for tax justice advocates in Africa to mark its 7th annual edition themed, Tax Justice Advocacy: Increasing Participation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Journalists through Capacity Building.
This edition of the International Tax Justice Academy (ITJA) brings together participants from the entire continent drawn from the civil society, media, trade unions, policy makers and academia.
Taxing the digitalised economy, tax justice advocacy strategy, IFFs, and Africa’s investment regimes, financial secrecy, investigative journalism, amongst others will headline this year’s training topics.
TJNA underscored Africa’s significant natural resource wealth and, saying with good husbandry, the endowment could finance the continent’s development.
During the academy, TJNA endevours to empower the target groups with skills to identify, track, and report illicit outflows from the continent.
“While there is dependence on the academia and research institutions for publication of scientific studies, it is the role of the civil society to advocate for increased transparency around public revenues and expenditures,” said TJNA.
The network has called on the media to invest in improving their skills for in-depth investigations and expose such abuses not only as a means of defending the resources, but also for concrete action to be taken.
Trade unions have also been challenged to take advantage of their presence in every country in the continent to explore possibilities of collaborating with non-state actors to combat IFFs in Africa.
It is envisaged that the academy will strengthen alliances, enlighten stakeholders, and mobilise champions of tax justice advocates with enhanced capacities to reduce IFFs.