The Government of Ghana lost potential tax revenue of $3.86 billion between 2002 and 2011 through trade misinvoicing, an average of $368 million a year.
A report released on May 12, 2014 by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington DC-based research and advocacy organisation, said $14.39 billion in illicit capital flowed either into or out of Ghana due to trade misinvoicing, while under-invoicing of exports amounted to $5.1 billion and under-invoicing of imports came to $4.6 billion.
The report said the under-invoicing of exports was the primary method for shifting money illicitly out of the country, while the under-invoicing of imports was used mainly to illegally smuggle capital into the country.
As a result of those illicit financial deals, Ghana tax loss has been put at roughly 11 per cent of total government revenue during the 10-year period.
Apart from Ghana, the study, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, also looked at four other African countries, namely Uganda, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania, and found that the over-invoicing and under-invoicing of trade transactions allowed at least $60.8 billion to be illegally taken into or out of the five countries between 2002 and 2011.
In the case of the other four countries, the potential average annual tax loss from trade misinvoicing during the 10 years reviewed amounted to $2.43 billion or roughly 12.7 per cent of Ugandas total government revenue; $1.68 billion for Mozambique (10.4 per cent); $3.92 billion for Kenya (8.3 per cent); and $2.48 billion for Tanzania (7.4 per cent). Illicit financial flows
It is deeply disconcerting that illicit financial flows are taking such a serious toll on the economies of Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, noted Mr Mogens Jensen, Danish Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation.
Denmark has for several years supported Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda in fighting poverty and promoting economic growth and job creation.
But the efforts are clearly at risk of being undermined by fraudulent trade transactions, which rob the people of these countries of funds that could otherwise have been used for investments in infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and other much needed public services.
“I hope that the study can help governments in their efforts to curb illicit financial flows,” Mr Jensen said.
Trade misinvoicing is stymieing economic growth and likely decimating government revenues in these countries, said GFI President Raymond Baker, a long-time authority on financial crime. Devastating consequences
The consequences are simply devastating.
The capital drained from trade misinvoicing means that local businesses in Uganda and Tanzania have less money to grow their companies and hire more workers.
The potential revenue loss from trade misinvoicing means that Ghana has less money to spend on health care, Kenya has less money to devote to education, and Mozambique has less money to invest in infrastructure.
Trade misinvoicing was perhaps the most serious economic issue plaguing these countries, Mr Baker said.
Authored by a team of GFI experts, the analysis reviewed the components and drivers of trade misinvoicing in the five countries and estimated the potential impact on tax revenue for each government.
It analysed the policy environment in each country, and provided general policy recommendations, as well as specific suggestions tailored to the circumstances in each nation.
The GFI report recommended greater transparency in domestic and international financial transactions, and greater cooperation between developed and developing country governments to shut down the channels through which illicit money flows.
“It is our view that this is just the beginning of the conversation surrounding trade misinvoicing and illicit flows in these countries.
“Our analysis makes it clear that more research can and should be done to further identify areas for improvement.
“It’s our desire to work constructively with the governments of Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda to meaningfully curtail the scourge of illicit financial flows,” Mr Baker said. — GNA
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