ECA urges African leaders to sign for global tax transparency

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The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has urged African leaders to Embrace global legislation against illicit financial flows by signing up to global tax transparency and other relevant legislations.

Ms Vera Songwe, the ECA Executive Secretary, made the plea at the 19th quarterly briefing with African Ambassadors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Songwe, in a statement obtained from the ECA’s website, said the ambassadors had urged ECA to work closely with its partners, African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

“This is to find ways through which Africa can stop IFFs that were costing the continent an estimated 80 billion dollars annually,’’ the ECA executive secretary quoted the ambassadors as saying.

Songwe said that the leaders should sign up to such legislations to stop the bleeding and ensure that money and assets siphoned out of the continent illicitly could be brought back once tracked successfully.

“As much as we talk about IFFs, we make a lot of fuss about it. Many of us have not taken basic steps that are needed and required to ensure that the money doesn’t go out.

“If you do not close your door and you wake up everyday saying your goats have been taken away, everybody will say but you did not close your door.

”We have a sort of pretend problem because we have not closed our doors.

”We should start by saying how many countries are still pending in signing this legislation that says close your doors,” she said.

Songwe explained that much more had been lost from Africa since the Thabo Mbeki Report on IFFs in Africa was released in 2015.

She said that the meeting also deliberated on numbers of issues affecting the continent and the work of the ECA in supporting the continent’s quest for economic and structural transformation.

Songwe said that the meeting also discussed the forthcoming historic signing of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda in March and the work the commission was doing to support the AUC and member states in the CFTA negotiations.

“Member states were concerned that the private sector was not involved as would be expected to make sure they benefited and entered trade deals that would benefit Africa and its people once the CFTA was implemented.

“They also raised issues which had to do with migration and the need to change the narrative to reflect that African migration was more intra-regional than international.

“They called for statistics to record the movement of African people within the continent.

“The ambassadors were briefed about the High Level Panel on Migration (HLPM) which is chaired by former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“The HLPM, which seeks to identify and articulate key issues that form the African migration story, challenges and priorities for the continent.

“The panel is expected to produce a report in April following its work on migration in Africa, ECA executive secretary said in the statement.

She said that the ambassadors were also briefed about consultations on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

The ambassadors agreed that the ECA should continue to support Africa on migration and the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), ensure cohesiveness between Addis Ababa and New York, among other things.

Suzan O.