The World Bank, in collaboration with Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) hosted the first ever regional transfer summit for West African countries to support domestic resource mobilization and boost the countries’ tax base from profit shifting.
The transfer pricing summit held in Abuja Tuesday, was an initiative of the World Bank geared towards enhancement of tax profit of Member states.
Speaking during the opening session of the three day summit, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion Kalilou Traore said that ECOWAS is committed to implementing programs that will facilitate regional integration and making it work for private sector operators and the people of West Africa.
Traore added that the West African regional body recognizes that it is important to develop internationally shared transfer principles for its member states.
In his speech, the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue, Tunde Fowler said that that Nigeria can no longer rely on oil revenue to fund her national budget noting that the fall in the global price of the commodity led the country into its current economic quackmare.
Fowler stressed the need for nations especially the oil producing ones to rely more on taxation to fund their programs.
In addition, Matthew Gbonjubola, Head FIRS International Tax, said that taxes from multinational companies constitute a substantial amount of tax revenue in West African countries.
He pointed that the the workshop was an opportunity for Nigeria and other ECOWAS member states to collaborate on protecting their tax base with efficient transfer pricing regimes.
Another speaker, Head, European Union Economic Cooperation and Energy Section, Juan Casia who represented the Head EU to Nigeria Ambassador Michel Arrion, noted that improving investment conditions was a priority of EU Cooperation with West Africa in general and NIgeria in particular.
He assured that the EU was committed to supporting developing economies to establish efficient, effective, fair and transparent tax systems, implement international tax standards and increase domestic revenue mobilization and tackle tax evasion, tax avoidance, and illicit financial flows.
According to Rowland Lomme, Senior Governance Specialist, World Bank Group, noted that West Africa has enormous potential to strengthen their competitiveness and increase investment flows which can drive growth, reduce poverty and deliver jobs to the region.
He expressed the readiness of World Bank to partner private sector and development partners to help West African countries overcome investment challenges along key trade corridors and improve their competitiveness within the global economy.
The event is expected to provide a platform for ECOWAS member states to take stock of current state of transfer pricing in the region and to determine the direction of further progress.
Over 60 participants including tax administrators and tax policy officials from 15 member states of ECOWAS as well as representatives of from ECOWAS Commission, the European Union, West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the World Bank Group, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and the West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF).
The event was also described as an opportunity for ECOWAS countries to share their experiences of introducing and implementing transfer pricing rules. Initiatives would be identified to assist member states to address implementation challenges arising from the scarcity of data, information and limited capacity.