Policy analyst with the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Dr. Steve Manteaw, has stated that Ghana’s quest to fight illicit financial flows within the extractive sector can be fast-tracked with firm commitment from the media and competent authorities within the sector.
His call comes as government prepares to fully establish the Beneficial Ownership Register by September, 2020.
Speaking to Citi Business News, on the sidelines of a media capacity building workshop organised by the Tax Justice Coalition, on the role and opportunities available for journalists to help curb illicit financial flows in the country, Dr. Manteaw said that while various national policies have failed to curb the act over the years, the Beneficial Ownership Register may be one instrument with the potential of bringing about gains in the fight against illicit financial flows in the country.
“When it comes to Beneficial Ownership, that one is very promising. The reason the fight against illicit financial flows has become very important is the fact that, under the sustainable development goals, countries are supposed to mobilise their own domestic resources for financing their development. So, it becomes neccessary that every country takes steps to conserve domestic revenues by identifying and pluging leakages,” he said.
Chairman of the Tax Justice Coalition, Mr. Vitus Azeem, also noted that there is the need for the media to provide additional oversight in keeping up with reporting on financial malfeasance and seek accountability on these issues.
Ghana’s quest for development and structural transformation requires significant upgrading of its infrastructure, technological transfer, innovation, agricultural productivity and human capital development. These require massive financial investments. The rich natural resource endowment of the country could potentially finance a greater part of the most needed investments. Yet, the country does not reap the full benefits from its natural resource wealth as a greater chunk of resources is being lost through illicit financial outflows, that is, money that ends up benefiting a few local and foreign elites rather than the general population. This often takes the form of corruption, illegal exploitation, and tax evasion.
Following this cancer, the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD) in January this year begun implementing the Beneficial Ownership regime in accordance with the Companies Act 2019 (Act 992).
Per the beneficial ownership provision, every company in Ghana will now have to provide information on who its beneficial owners are, their interests, nationality, residential and postal addresses, their dates of birth, and possibly contact numbers to enable the Registrar-Generals Department to contact them, if need be.
This is a major step being taken to enable the country meet its commitments to strategic measures towards complying with the 2016 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) global conference resolution.