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Business News of Saturday, 22 February 2020

Source: GNA

Ghana ranks 117 on financial secrecy index


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Ghana is ranked 117th out of 133 countries on the 2020 Financial Secrecy Index (FSI), garnering a score of 52 and accounting for 0.01 percent of global market in offshore financial services.

The FSI ranks each country based on intensity of its legal and financial systems with a secrecy score out of 100, where a zero out of 100 is full transparency and a 100 out of 100 is full secrecy.

Ghana’s secrecy score, according to FSI 2020, copied to the Ghana News Agency, was based on ownership registration, legal entity transparency, integrity of tax and financial regulation as well as international standards and cooperation.

Three other African countries such as Nigeria ranked 34 scoring 70, South Africa ranked 58 gathering 56 and Rwanda ranked 99 with 63.

Meanwhile, on the global level Cayman Island leapfrogged over the US and Switzerland in global ranking of secrecy hotbeds to top the Index.

The rest of the 10 biggest enablers of FSI in the world are, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Japan, The Netherlands, British Virgin Island and the United Arab Emirates.

The Tax Justice Network’s FSI 2020 revealed that financial secrecy around the world was decreasing as a result of recent transparency reforms.

It said on the average, countries on the index reduced their contribution to global FSI by seven percent.

Liz Nelson, a Director at the Tax Justice Network, said “The sweeping reforms that were made in recent years and have led to a global curbing of financial secrecy were considered to be impossible to achieve when the first Financial Secrecy Index was published a decade ago.

“However, progress on country by country reporting remains slow, leaving unchecked the rampant tax abuse that disproportionally undercuts the people who start out with less opportunities in life to begin with.”

Alex Cobham, Chief Executive at the Tax Justice Network, said “Creating a fair world that treats all members of society as equals means reprogramming our financial and tax systems to run on transparency, not secrecy, making it impossible for criminals and elites to go uncounted and making sure countries are well-resourced and well-governed to support everyone to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life. We still have a lot of work to do ahead – our governments must keep their foot to the pedal.

“It is deplorable, however, that in the face of this progress, an Anglo-American axis of secrecy has actively chosen to double down on the practices that exacerbate corruption, tax abuse and global inequalities”.

Gabriel Zucman, a Commissioner at the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) and Professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, said “The Financial Secrecy Index is like the Hubble telescope of tracking harmful regulations around the planet and mapping out a trajectory towards a more transparent world but while countries around the world are making progress towards financial transparency the US seems to be digging its heels in secrecy”.

The Tax Justice Network is recommending that counter-measures by governments to reduce the canker, increasing corporate tax transparency towards the new Global Reporting Initiative standards and addition of public registration of beneficial ownership and legal vehicles to its binding recommendations be pursued.

It called on policy-makers to prioritise sanctions against these backsliders.

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