The Federal Government has employed the services of a global investigation agency to help trace illicit funds from Nigeria to other countries of the world.
The development was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Friday during her keynote address at the Nigerian Stock Exchange-Bloomberg CEO roundtable in Lagos.
“We have engaged one of the world’s leading global investigating agencies and we have traced funds originating from Nigeria to all parts of the world,” Adeosun said.
She further said that the rate with which illicit funds flow out of the country is injurious to the country and continuously deprives “us of essential funds and those same funds are then used to finance developments in other nations. This must stop.”
Decrying the situation of tax payment in Nigeria she also said, “We have just 40 million active taxpayers out of an estimated 69.9 million, who are economically active in Nigeria. And of that 40 million, the majority are PAYE (Pay As You Earn), that is, those who have their tax deducted at source.
“Among those who are even paying taxes, there is widespread malpractice that results in only part of the actual income being subjected to tax.”
The minister noted that the nation’s tax to Gross Domestic Product, which stands at a ratio of six per cent, remains one of the lowest levels in the world.
She said, “We have a lot of work to do if we are going to build a sustainable revenue base that will deliver the growth we desire. Even within our tax-paying community, only 214 people in the entire nation pay taxes of N120m in spite of having some of the richest people in Africa and some of the best capitalised companies in Africa; only 214 in the entire country, all of who are in Lagos State.”
According to the minister, the government must apply full force in order to address the issue of tax invasion and for the country to grow. She said to that, “we will have to step on some big toes, and we will need to step on them hard. But we really have no choice.
“Those who have more must carry their fair share of the tax burden, and so to this end, for the last 15 months, we have engaged in a huge data-gathering exercise”