The African Development Bank (AfDB) has commenced the implementation of its ‘Strategic Framework and Action Plan for the Prevention of Illicit Financial Flows’ in Africa, which was approved in April 2017. The first pillar of the strategy is anchored on strengthening the capacity of the bank’s regional member countries and regional economic communities to fight illicit financial flows.
AfDB’s senior director for Nigeria, Ebrima Faal, made this disclosure in Abuja, yesterday at a workshop on “The Role of the Parliament in Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.”
Faal noted that since the approval of the strategic framework and action plan a year ago, the bank had organised and participated in a number of conferences and workshops aimed at building the capacity of regional stakeholders in the area of anti-illicit financial flows work.
“This workshop in Abuja will be the first in a programme of workshops designed for parliamentarians, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and the related ecosystems in Africa,” he said.
Fatal, who underscored the importance of the workshop, said it would review the challenges and learn from the good practices adopted by experts in their fight against illicit financial flows, in addition to exploring the role that parliamentarians can play in facilitating the work of the practitioners.
“It is our fervent hope that at the end of this week, the ideas and knowledge we exchanged in this workshop will enable you to chart a clear way forward to address the challenges of illicit financial flows in the constituents that you serve,” Faal added.
He observed that the role of parliaments in promoting economic recovery and sustainable development was a fundamental one, adding that they have the constitutional mandate to both oversee government and to hold government to account.
“But they also play a primary role in promoting good economic and financial governance through effective oversight of the public budget and expenditure management. It is a vital democratic institution serving as a bridge between the state and society.
“In carrying out its legislative, oversight and representative roles, parliaments help strengthen good governance for enhanced growth and poverty reduction. In this regard, the African Development Bank is committed to support the capacity building of African parliaments, to help strengthen their oversight function. In this regard, we hope to leverage parliaments and parliamentarans to promote good economic governance in our regional member countries,” he stated.
According to him, Africa’s sound growth prospects were increasingly underpinned by generally improved macroeconomic policies, moderate external debt, political stability, and good governance, adding that fewer conflicts and more democratic institutions, had also provided better clarity for investors as evidenced by the recent improvements in the continent’s ranking in the ease of doing business.
He said the AfDB strongly supports Africa’s economic efforts, including efforts to stem corruption, improve transparency, and strengthen fiscal consolidation and efficiency.
He further disclosed that estimates on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) were highly disparate due to differences in methodologies, stressing that current estimates suggest Africa could be losing more than $50 billion annually in Illicit Financial Flows.
“This is about the same size as total FDI (foreign direct investment) or total remittance flows and slightly higher than overseas development assistance (ODA). But these estimates may well be lower than actual outflows as accurate data do not exist for all African countries, and some discrete forms of illicit financial flows are excluded and therefore not easy to track, let alone estimate,” Faal added.
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