World leaders attending a summit in Paris tomorrow must ensure that wealthier nations commit to comprehensive debt relief for lower-income nations, including the cancellation of loans and to the scaling up of international assistance to vulnerable states, Amnesty International said today.
Amnesty International is calling on the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact (PACT) to ensure wealthier nations honour previous financial pledges they have failed to meet and adopt new ones which guarantee the rights of people in lower-income countries.
The rights to an adequate standard of living and to social security are enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has been ratified by more than 170 countries. Article 2 of the ICESCR obliges states to take steps, including through international cooperation and assistance, to support other states to meet their economic and social rights obligations.
“Many vulnerable, lower-income states have been overwhelmed by economic shocks, debts they cannot pay, and the effects of climate change – a crisis to which they contributed very little, but which is costing people in these countries dearly. These are unprecedented challenges that require a rethink of how the world’s financial architecture is set up,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“The rights of many people in vulnerable countries to access healthcare and social protection are not met at even the most basic level. There is a vital need to provide financial and technical assistance to these countries so that they can scale up social protection schemes to guarantee people’s right to an adequate standard of living.
“Unsustainable levels of debt can have grave implications for economic and social rights. The cost of servicing existing debt can divert essential financing away from crucial social spending. Coordinated international action offering debt relief can transform the ability of governments to invest in economic and social protections, supporting their capacity to protect the rights of their people.
“All creditors – states, private creditors, and international financial institutions – should cooperate to ensure timely debt relief for all countries in and at risk of debt distress and consider all options, including debt restructuring and debt cancellation.
“All states should support and fund the establishment of a global social protection fund to help countries that are struggling to provide adequate protections, as advocated by the International Labour Organization and UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.
“It is regrettable that many states, and civil society organizations and social movements representing communities worst affected by these crises, will not be represented at the summit. Those most exposed to the effects of climate change and national indebtedness should be allowed to contribute to discussions and engage in reforms that can achieve climate justice and economic security.
“Whether the Paris meeting, called by France’s President Macron outside of the usual UN framework for discussions, is an appropriate forum for the substantial reforms required is questionable.
“Nonetheless, we urge the summit’s participants to recognize the urgency of this unfolding crisis and encourage them to harness the growing momentum for change. It is crucial that they enable further progress at the G20 Leaders’ Summit and COP28 climate meeting later this year.”
Lower income countries cannot fairly phase out fossil fuels, protect people from the harms of the climate crisis and provide remedy to those most affected if wealthier states continue to evade their obligations of international cooperation and assistance under human rights law and the commitments taken under the 2015 Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to provide climate finance to developing countries.
Countries have failed to fulfil a pledge to provide US$100 billion annually to help states mitigate and adapt to climate change. A separate loss and damage fund has yet to be funded and become operational. A climate meeting in Bonn this month was hampered by disputes between wealthy and developing countries over climate finance.
“Commitments to ensure urgent and sufficient relief for nations in debt distress, and more grants, are required to support those states struggling to protect the rights of people against the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and other disasters,” said Agnès Callamard.
“With average global temperatures rising and set to far exceed the 1.5˚C increase over pre-industrial levels previously agreed to, the world is standing on the precipice of a climate disaster. This summit should offer a chance for global leaders to protect the rights of the world’s most marginalized people, not move the burden further onto those who are suffering the most but contributed the least to causing this crisis.”
Tax and financial reform
The global financial system has failed the people most at risk from an unprecedented combination of crises, and fundamental reform to make it more inclusive, sustainable, and equitable is long overdue.
Amnesty International shares many of the concerns about this summit made by civil society organizations and some Global South countries, including the absence of a scheduled discussion on a UN Tax Convention and Tax Body to create fairer global tax governance, and on the imperative to shift finance away from fossil fuels and towards economic and social rights.
Nigeria’s Tax Revolution: Shifting Burden to the Wealthy and Streamlining the System
President Bola Tinubu’s administration is set to revolutionize the nation’s tax system.
The ambitious plan seeks to redistribute the tax burden, making the wealthy pay their fair share while stimulating business growth through corporate tax cuts.
The cornerstone of this tax reform initiative is a push to increase Nigeria’s tax revenue from 11% to 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within three years.
Spearheading this transformation is Taiwo Oyedele, who leads a panel appointed by President Tinubu.
Oyedele articulated the primary objectives of the reform, saying “We aim to make the rich pay what is fair and protect those in poverty.”
This move is crucial in a country where extreme wealth disparities persist, with only a small fraction of the population enjoying immense riches.
Notably, the plan also includes a reduction in the corporate income tax rate, which currently stands at an effective rate of over 40%.
The aim is to benchmark this rate against Nigeria’s international peers, fostering a more business-friendly environment.
Nigeria’s tax system has long been plagued by complexity, with nearly 70 different taxes and overlapping jurisdictions.
The reform initiative seeks to simplify this by streamlining tax structures and drastically reducing the number of taxes to single digits.
Also, a tax amnesty is under consideration, aimed at encouraging tax compliance and offering relief for past debts. The hope is that by fostering transparency and accountability, more Nigerians will willingly contribute to the country’s fiscal health.
In a nation where government debt has surged dramatically in recent years, this tax revolution is seen as a pivotal step towards reducing the deficit and ensuring sustainable economic growth.
Federal Government’s $3 Billion Rescue Plan to Bolster Naira Stability
The National Economic Council (NEC) has confirmed the deployment of the $3 billion emergency loan-for-crude oil, secured by the Federal Government in August, for the stabilization of the national currency.
The naira’s value has been under siege, with fluctuations in the Investors & Exporters’ window and a parallel market rate that briefly hit N1000/$ this month.
Addressing reporters following the 136th NEC meeting at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule expressed confidence in the plan.
He stated, “With the plan that will come out and with all these items that have been listed on the improvement of revenue, the $3 billion shall be useful to us down the line.”
The emergency loan, secured from Afrexim Bank, was initially intended to relieve pressure on the naira, facilitate the settlement of taxes and royalties in advance, and provide the Federal Government with vital dollar liquidity for naira stabilization.
The recent nomination of Olayemi Cardoso as the new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor by President Bola Tinubu has already shown promise.
The naira experienced a boost in the black market, strengthening by N10 against the dollar, closing at N990/$1.
Governor Sule indicated that the implementation of the intervention would require careful planning and time.
He emphasized the need for the new CBN team to devise effective strategies. In response to inquiries about a supplementary budget, Sule stated that there is no immediate need for one, as the situation does not warrant it.
As Nigeria’s economic landscape faces evolving challenges, the NEC’s decision to harness the $3 billion loan offers a glimmer of hope for a more stable naira in the near future.
Former FIRS Chairman Muhammad Nami Accused of Controversial N6 Billion Payments After Sudden Exit
Documents reveal questionable approvals and alleged backdating, raising concerns over financial misconduct
Muhammad Nami, the former chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), is under scrutiny for approving payments totaling N6 billion to contractors and consultants just days after his abrupt removal from office.
Documents obtained by TheCable shed light on these controversial transactions.
Nami, who was succeeded by Zacchaeus Adedeji, greenlit the payments on September 16, two days after his removal on September 14.
Sources privy to the situation, although not authorized to speak publicly, claim that Nami directed staff to work over the weekend to finalize these transactions.
Additionally, files were allegedly moved from the FIRS headquarters to his residence, where they were purportedly “backdated and signed.”
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising revelation is that Nami transferred approximately N5 billion from the FIRS account to the Joint Tax Board (JTB) without apparent justification.
It is reported that the FIRS director of finance and accounts reluctantly approved these payments after warning Nami about potential repercussions.
Nami allegedly reassured his subordinates that the incoming FIRS chairman would remain oblivious to these approvals.
Also, documents indicate that Nami approved significant payments, including N1.4 billion for a ‘Business Case for Strategic Leadership’ retreat, N250 million for FIRS Data Mining Management and Analytics in Taxation Course, and N221 million for a ‘Skill Development and Management Improvement Workshop Training.’
Curiously, Nami also appropriated over N81 million for a study visit to the Inland Revenue of Malaysia.
The FIRS, when contacted for comment, remained tight-lipped about the situation. Spokesperson Abdullahi Ismaila stated that he had no knowledge of the payments, while Tobi Johannes, Nami’s former media aide, distanced himself from the matter, emphasizing that his role ceased when Nami’s tenure ended.
These revelations have ignited concerns about financial misconduct within the FIRS and have raised questions about the oversight and accountability of government agencies. The full extent of these allegations is yet to be determined as investigations into the payments and their legitimacy continue.
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