Nigeria and three other West African countries lose an average of 9.6 billion dollars as revenues yearly through corporate tax incentives and waivers, a new report by Actionaid and Tax Justice Network Africa has stated.
The report, tagged “The West African Giveaway: Use and abuse of corporate tax incentive in ECOWAS,” was compiled by the two Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The report examined corporate tax incentives and their impact over the years in the economics of Economic Community of West African Countries with a focus on Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.
It stated that of the four countries, Nigeria recorded the biggest loss of about 2.9 billion dollars (N577 billion) to waivers yearly, more than the Federal Government’s annual budget to the education sector.
The report said Nigeria was followed by Ghana, which lost about 2.27 billion dollars annually, about thrice the allocation in its annual budget to the health sector.
ActionAid Nigeria Country Director, Ojobo Atuluku, at the launch of the report, decried the abuse of such incentives to and by multinational firms.
Atuluku said incentives were given to companies in the hope that foreign investors would bring in capital to support economic development and create local employment.
She, however, said that there was little evidence that tax incentives had increased investment in the West African sub region.
The director said granting tax incentives to investors, notably foreign companies, was depriving governments of money to pay for essential public services like health, education and infrastructure.
She said this had been hindering regional integration and failing in the stated objective of attracting new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Atuluku said that the increased investment in the region was due largely to the presence of natural resources and not necessarily because of the incentives granted.
“Corporate tax incentives, which are reductions in tax offered by governments to attract investment, including reduced corporate income tax holidays for specified periods, often provided to companies operating in special economic zones.
Despite serious questions about their usefulness and their large revenue losses, the use of tax incentives in ECOWAS member states is common practice,” she said.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com