Credible statistical data, a positive step in addressing IFFs – GSS


Government statistician at the Ghana Statistical Service, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, has identified the presence of a credible and comprehensive statistical data as a key strategy in addressing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in the West-Africa sub-Region-Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

According to him, the challenge for the sub- region in dealing with the problem of IFFs is the absence of reliable, accurate and timely statistical data on the nature and level of IFFs; hence, the surest way to go is building credible statistics to aid in identifying the form, mapping the territory, and quantifying the magnitudes of IFFs.

Moreover, the agenda of having a comprehensive statistic as a solution to IFFs corroborates with the United Nations General Assembly’s 2014 Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics which indicates that the compilation of the IFFs is a technical, statistical activity to be based on statistical considerations only in line with the fundamental principles of official statistics

Speaking during the maiden edition of the GSS and the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) training workshop on measuring IFFS, held in Accra, themed: “Combating Illicit Financial Flows to foster Sustainable Development Goals – taking stock and strengthening responses”, Professor Annim noted that there is the need to also collaborate and partner with other key stakeholders to achieve a holistic statistic in solving IFFs.

“We all have the responsibility to collaborate and partner with each other on data management systems, in sharing of risk assessment techniques, and to participate in commonly agreed joint activities and projects to effectively counter illicit financial flows”, he urged.

IFFs, as described by the government statistician, involves cross border transfer of money earned through illegal activities, and/or, efforts to shelter wealth from a country’s tax authorities and this he concludes, has dire implications such as causing leakages and loss of revenues to the country.

Beyond the financial loss and hindrance to development in our country, IFFs also have the “potential to threaten a country’s political stability by eroding trust in public institutions, encouraging further criminal activity and deepening inequality and weakening social cohesion”.

IFFs do not only hinder development prospects in countries, but also it reduces the countries’ ability to accumulate capital, service its debts and the ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Turning his attention to how IFFs cost African countries, he made reference to a report of the High-Level Panel (HLP) on IFFs from Africa, chaired by former President Thabo Mbeki, and endorsed by African Union Commission (AUC) in 2015 which states that African countries lose between US$50 billion and US$80 billion annually through trade, or commercial and tax IFFs

Narrowing it down to Ghana, he said estimates show that between the year 2000 and 2012, IFFs through trade mis-invoicing inflows and outflows and other such illegal activities, amounted to US$10.98 billion equivalent of GH¢73.67 billion.

With the above estimate of loss, he said it is more than enough to wipe out a quarter of the country’s debt, or finance the country’s critical infrastructure adding that it more than the flows of Official Development Assistance (ODA) coming into the country and more than Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) coming in as well.

The GSS has pledged its commitment and readiness to “serve as the focal point for coordinating the compilation of SDG indicators and will provide leadership and coordinate the activities of the necessary stakeholders to measure IFFs”, he said.

Commenting on the benefit of the workshop, the GSS is confident that it will build the capacity of participants and members of the Technical Working Groups (TWG) to support quarterly compilation of IFFS estimates in the sub-region.

The four-day workshop held last month was designed for four West Africa Countries- Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, and aimed at upgrading their knowledge in IFFs compilation methods and coming up with additional training requirements for them to be abreast of issues on IFFs for yearly compilation and for future works.

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