The Director,African Development Bank (ADB),Nigeria Country Office, Dr.Ousmane Dore has disclosed that the country lost $83.3 billion between 1960 to 2011 to Illicit financial flows.
Dore said the lost was through the over invoicing of imports and under invoking of exports through the inability of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to deal with the ilicit financial flows.
He said this over the weekend at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 2015 Investiture, held in Lagos with the theme ‘Diversifying the Revenue Base of the Nigerian Economy: Strategy Options’.
Dore,represented by the Chief Economist,ADB, Nigeria Country,Mr Zerihun Alemu, said the time to diversify the Nigerian economy is now and should be done by improving tax reform and tax administration to include potential additional tax payers, as 75 per cent of small and medium enterprises (SME’s) are not in the tax system.
He said Nigeria’s revenue can be shored up if tax collection is focused on as “FIRS reports show that 65 per cent of registered tax payers have not filed their tax returns and tax collection should be monitored to minimise tax exemption abuses under pioneer status,local content,export promotion and others as 30 per cent of companies abuse their tax exempt status.”
He said the non-oil revenue is low due to low tax effort, where non-oil revenue to non-oil gross domestic product (GDP) is 4.6 per cent compared to 15 per cent low income economies and 19 per cent in emerging economies.
He cited low tax efficiency,low VAT collection efficiency due to compliance issues and need for tax reform for the non-oil revenue mobilisation as measures that would help in diversifying the economy.
The deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Corporate banking,Mr Adebayo Adelabu said the country is experiencing tough times in the economic sphere because “we lost the opportunity to diversify the economy between 2009 to 2014 when there was stability in the economy and oil boom is the order of the day”.
Adelabu said diversification of the economy is a task for everybody,the government and the organised private sector (OPS), as increased focus on agriculture,solid minerals and import substitution to promote local industries as being championed by the current regime will help the economy greatly.
The President/Chairman of Council,CIBN, Mrs Debola Osibogun in her welcome address said the theme of the investiture is apt at this moment as non-oil revenue declined by 34 per cent at the end of the first quarter of 2015 from the all time high of $3 billion it attained in 2011.
Osibogun,on the investiture,said the number of bankers honoured is the highest ever done by CIBN which portends great things for the banking and financial sector,as she seeks continuing professionalism from the bankers.