The Good Financial Governance in Africa programme promotes transparency and accountability in public financial management and is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU). Its objective is to foster Good Financial Governance in Africa, more specifically to equip decision-makers in African public finance to use region-specific services, products and further education to improve financial governance.
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The African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) in collaboration with GIZ Good Financial Governance in Africa Programme jointly hosted a two-day International conference on Transparency and Illicit Financial Flows from 15 – 16 September 2021, under the theme “The Role of Exchange of Information in the fight against IFFs on the African continent– A reflection with the African Tax Administration Forum”.
The Conference was opened by Mr. Logan Wort, Executive Secretary of ATAF, who in stressed the need for everyone to work together in the fight against illicit outflows of money from Africa. Mr. Wort recognized the GIZ Good Financial Governance in Africa Programme initiatives in combatting IFFs in Africa and acknowledged other organisations that play a key role in Africa in tackling IFF such as the African Union. In his remarks, H.E. Ambassador Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade Industry and Mining at the African Union Commission observed that “the continued Illicit Financial Flows from Africa undermines the process of social and economic development”.
Mr. Maurice Ochieng, Programme Manager of the GIZ Good Financial Governance (GFG) in Africa Programme, recalled the commitment from the European Union, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Government of Finland in supporting the African Union Commission in its efforts to tackle the Illicit Financial Flows scourge in the African continent. The Joint Action on combatting IFFs is spearheaded by the AUC Department of Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining and implemented by the GIZ Good Financial Governance in Africa Programme in partnership with the four pan-African network organisations, namely the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), the African Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (AFROPAC), and the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), for a period of four years to 2024.
The sessions of the first day discussed where we are on combatting IFF during these times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the critical importance, and the status of Exchange of Information (EOI) on the African Continent, as well as how to maximise opportunities under IFF information in the EOI process. The conference underlined the importance of the exchange of information in Africa as a major tool that will contribute towards ensuring that African countries are well-equipped to exploit the improvements in global transparency to better tackle tax evasion.
The second day of the conference included discussions on the multiple instruments such as Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs), Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), and mutual assistance agreements as tools that are used in allowing to African Revenue Administrations to exchange information on cross-border transactions and assets held offshore in combatting IFFs whilst fast tracking the implementation of recommendations from the 2015 AU High-Level Panel on IFFs led by H.E. Thabo Mbeki (former President of South Africa) and the 2021 High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI). The discussions recognised the critical role that the AUC – with ATAF’s support on technical tax matters – should play as the political voice of the continent in global dialogues on combating IFFs, where African perspective need to be represented and considered.
In closing the captivating conference, Mr. Ochieng restated the role that ATAF and GIZ have been playing in curbing IFFs and re-iterated that both organisations will continue and double their efforts in the fight against IFFs.