Nigeria to World Bank: We are going after those who stole our money
Addressing senior representatives from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, as well as over 150 parliamentarians, the Minister called for greater focus on collaboration in illicit financial flows from Africa as a core pillar of the government’s strategy to significantly enhance domestic government revenue and deliver sustainable economic growth
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, is in Washington DC this week attending the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings.
The Minister is participating in a range of events focused on different aspects of the Federal Government’s economic reform agenda.
At her opening event on Monday, Adeosun gave an address to the Global Parliamentary Conference, alongside parliamentarians from around the world, focused on Nigeria’s economic reform agenda and the need for strong executive and legislative collaboration.
Addressing senior representatives from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, as well as over 150 parliamentarians, the Minister called for greater focus on collaboration in illicit financial flows from Africa as a core pillar of the government’s strategy to significantly enhance domestic government revenue and deliver sustainable economic growth.
She said: “The government is focused on resetting the Nigerian economy by addressing our traditional over-reliance on oil revenues and establishing the basis for sustainable non-oil revenue growth. To improve non-oil revenues, we have to address illicit capital flows.
“When stolen money is transferred from Nigeria, or other African countries, there are too few questions asked by those countries that receive the funds, but when we identify those funds as stolen and seek to recover them, there are too many questions being asked. There is money sitting in foreign bank accounts that we have spent over a decade trying to recover.
“That is money that could deliver significant value for Nigeria as we seek to increase spending on critical infrastructure and establish a basis for long term sustainable growth. I hope that the Automatic Exchange of Information scheme coming into force next year will be a step towards achieving greater transparency, but we need more collaboration amongst parliamentarians in Africa, and across the World to ensure that this situation improves and that recipient countries are held to account.”
Commenting on the domestic agenda to ensure significant reductions in “leakages” of public funds, and improved efficiency in public expenditure, the Minister said: “We are going after those who have stolen our money. We have put in place a very successful whistle blower programme that is delivering results, and allows those who report illicit activity to receive up to 5% of any funds that we recover.
“We are also significantly improving our financial management controls to ensure that it is considerably more difficult for public funds to be diverted. We have to do more though and that means collaboration with the legislature. We need tighter tax and financial reporting legislation and to ratify bilateral agreements so that our enforcement agencies are empowered to deliver the results that we need.”
The Minister will be attending a series of meetings over the coming days, including meetings with the World Bank to take forwards conversations about lending into strategic sectors of the economy as part of the administration’s focus on addressing Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit and accelerating implementation of critical projects.
Adeosun said: “To create the basis for long term growth, we need to invest urgently in our infrastructure. Achieving energy sufficiency and achieving agriculture and food security are two of the execution priorities we have identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and we are looking forward to advancing our ongoing conversations with multilateral lenders on these priorities over the coming days as we look to accelerate implementation.”
The Minister will also speak at fora on how to improve nutrition and how to close the Financing Gap for Water Resources.