Nigeria’s Bleeding Finances Are Worsened By Revelation That About N2trn Is Lost Annually To Tax Evasion And Cyber Crimes
Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters yesterday revealed that Nigeria had lost more than N2 trillion from tax evasion and cyber crimes. Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aloysius Etok, dropped the hint at a valedictory session of the National Assembly Anti-money Laundering and Cyber Security Coalition. Etok tasked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to use their civil authority to strip corrupt officials, proceeds of their conducts, and “deprive them of the very profit that drives the corrupt conduct in the first place.” Etok, who further revealed that he got the figure from the various briefings of the EFCC and the ICPC, insisted that fighting tax evasion had become a necessity and not just a choice, given the ugly development. “It is now time for action actionprosecution, investigation and recovery.
Investigations should not be delayed in courts especially when it involves tax evasion and corruption,” he added. Etok noted that fighting corruption and tax evasion was always the core priority of the coalition, adding that the Committee, more than ever, was fighting the challenges on multiple fronts but noted that the problems seemed daunting. “The corrosive effect of these economic crimes affects, not just Nigeria, but the international community.
Although we may not experience acutely or as personally, some of the consequences of these economic crimes on tax evasion, siphoning of money, splitting of contracts by corrupt government officials, the negative effect of this menace indirectly generate negative impacts on economy, which leads to so much poverty, unemployment and threats to our national security. “When tax evasion for instance, takes hold of the economy, it leads to unfair competition. Some capable companies are being denied the ability to compete in a fair and transparent environment. “Some even suffer at the hands of government officials and lose out to corrupt competitors.
When public officials are more interested in their own personal wealth than the property of the citizen they are to serve, people lose faith in political institutions,” he said. He also said that operation of the free trade zone in perpetuity without payment of tax had resulted in the loss of revenue and poor infrastructure which in most cases made the government to become a tenant instead of a landlord. He urged the incoming National Assembly to ensure the speedy passage of Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, enactment of assets recovery law, strengthening of anti-graft agencies through funding and enforcement of federal character law to strengthen the unity of the country.