Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Special counsel Robert Mueller has quit as special counsel, issuing at the same time his first public statement on his investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election, explaining why his office did not conclude whether or not President Trump committed a crime.
 
In his statement, Mueller said his office could not bring criminal charges against the president because the team believed it to be unconstitutional.
 
“If we had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so,” said Mueller, adding, “Charging the president with a crime is not an option we could consider.”
 
“It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge,” said Mueller, further explaining the reasoning.
 
“If we had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so,” said Mueller, adding, “Charging the president with a crime is not an option we could consider.”
 
Mueller announced that he was officially resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life. He said this was his final statement on the matter, and any testimony he might give to Congress would not go beyond what was in the report.
 
Mueller has been asked to appear by the House Judiciary Committee, but he hasn’t said if he will. He said no one — presumably referring to officials in the Justice Department or the administration — has instructed him one way or the other about his appearance.
 
U.S.President Trump: still insists `Mueller exonerated him
 
“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner,” said Mueller.
 
“I am making that decision myself, no one has told me whether I can or should testify. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made.”
 
“We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in an appearance before Congress. In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.”
 
Mueller did not take questions from the assembled reporters after the 10-minute statement.
 
The White House said it was notified on Tuesday night of Mueller’s plans to make a statement, and CNN reported that Mueller had briefed Attorney General William Barr on its contents. He had remained almost completely silent over the course of the nearly two-year investigation.
 
Trump, who had claimed vindication after Mueller’s report, tweeted that “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report.” He added his own spin to Mueller’s remarks: “There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
 
The special counsel’s report concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” leading to the indictment of 34 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes. Those indictments led to seven guilty pleas. Four people, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were sentenced to prison.
 
A redacted version of Mueller’s 448-page report, released last month, found no conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign. But it chronicled at least 10 episodes of efforts by Trump to obstruct the federal probe. And while the special counsel declined to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, investigators explicitly refused to exonerate the president despite his repeated public comments to the contrary.
 
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report read. “We are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
 
The findings have spurred calls by some Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan to pursue Trump’s impeachment. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged caution, saying she wants to see Mueller’s full unredacted report and hear testimony from current and former members of the Trump administration before considering it.
 
“Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act,” tweeted Warren after the statement. “They should.”
 
“The ball is in our court, Congress,” wrote Amash.
 
Published in World
Nigerian President Mr Muhammadu Buhari has sought the collaboration of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated to “institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform this region’s economic fortunes.
 
Buhari spoke when he had audience with the board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, led by the Group Chairman, Emmanuel Ikazoboh.
 
Buhari stressed that his administration remained committed to the goals of securing the country, inclusive economic growth, and fighting corruption.
 
According to him, Nigeria was in a unique position as the most populous and resource-rich nation on the African continent, adding that the resources would be harnessed and properly managed, to engender a prosperous and peaceful country.
 
He said: “If assets and resources available to Nigeria were properly managed, she would be prosperous and peaceful. But the poverty and insecurity we are experiencing today are results of decades of neglect and resource mismanagement”.
 
Buhari said his government was not only determined to reverse the trend of squander-mania and mismanagement, “we have made progress in some areas such as agriculture”. The President commended Ecobank for being active in promoting financial inclusion, noting that it is key to the government’s diversification agenda.
 
On requests by the bank for the decongestion of Apapa ports, and rebuilding of the transnational Lagos-Badagry-Seme road, he responded: “We are aware and are working in all those areas, and by the grace of God, you will start seeing results during my second term in office.”
 
Ikazoboh who had in his delegation, the Group CEO Ecobank, Ade Ayeyemi and Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, called on President Buhari to urgently address Apapa gridlock, describing the port as the center of trade in the country.
 
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the challenges they want the President to intervene in , the bank chief said: “Well in our speech, we have told him some of the challenges Nigeria and Africa are facing. Like I said earlier on, if Nigeria is sorted out, Africa is sorted out, and some of these challenges are infrastructure, of which they are working on assiduously. Also we are talking about the Seme road because of West African trade route which we think should be given some priority. And to thank him also for the steps he is taking to clear the Apapa Port because that is where trade is coming into Nigeria.”
 
The bank chief added: “The major problem confronting the bank’s today are the debtors. We have a number of debtors both corporate and individuals, and we need to put in place a framework to ensure that people do not just take loan and not pay pack. Banks are under pressure because if you have a lot of unpaid loans, it means you don’t have enough money to also support other borrowings or other small and medium enterprises.”
 
On what the bank was doing to support SMEs in the country, Ikazoboh said, “we’ve improved the capital of Ecobank in Nigeria. In the last six months, we have brought in about $150 million all to drive borrowings and supporting the small and medium enterprises.”
 
The Ecobank Group Chairman said the purpose of their visit was to “congratulate the President on his re-election and to wish him God’s guidance and spiritual protection to continue to lead this nation because we believe that he has the interest of the country at heart and if Nigeria succeeds, Africa has succeeded and being the leader of Nigeria, he is the leader of Africa. Since we are the Pan-African bank, we needed to come and see the leader of Africa.”
 
Ikazoboh disclosed that the Ecobank Group “with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa is the only bank that spans 36 African countries, but operates a truly integrated African network. That is One unified integrated Ecobank Mobile Banking App, that works seamlessly across all 33 operating countries in Africa; One Ecobank Omni and Omnilite serving all Multinationals and SMEs in Africa; One Rapidtransfer app that breaks down country borders and allows the diaspora community send money directly to their loved ones, instantly and affordably across Africa; One Ecobank Online Banking platform that you can access easily whether you are in Abuja or Kinshasha; Ecobank’s unique and largest pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent, for the continent, through standardization, fuelling regional integration, and trade and investment across borders”
 
Further he said due to Ecobank’s sterling performance, it has been severally reconized as Best Digital Bank in Africa – 2017 by Euromoney Awards; Best Retail Bank and Innovation in Banking both in 2018 by the African Banker Awards.
Published in Agriculture
Wednesday, 29 May 2019 06:17

Corrupt countries collect less tax: IMF

The costs of corruption run deep. Your taxpayer dollars are lost in different ways, siphoned off from schools, roads, and hospitals to line the pockets of people up to no good, the International Monetary Fund said in a blog on Tuesday.
 
Equally damaging is the way it corrodes the government’s ability to help grow the economy in a way that benefits all citizens.
 
And no country is immune to corruption.
 
According to an IMF Chart based on the Fiscal Monitor analyzes of more than 180 countries, more corrupt countries collect fewer taxes, as people pay bribes to avoid them, including through tax loopholes designed in exchange for kickbacks. Also, when taxpayers believe their governments are corrupt, they are more likely to evade paying taxes.
 
The chart shows that overall, the least corrupt governments collect 4 percent of GDP more in tax revenues than countries at the same level of economic development with the highest levels of corruption.
 
A few countries’ reforms generated even higher revenues. Georgia, for example, reduced corruption significantly and tax revenues more than doubled, rising by 13 percentage points of GDP between 2003 and 2008. Rwanda’s reforms to fight corruption since the mid-1990s bore fruit, and tax revenues increased by 6 percentage points of GDP.
 
A few countries’ reforms generated even higher revenues. Georgia, for example, reduced corruption significantly and tax revenues more than doubled, rising by 13 percentage points of GDP between 2003 and 2008. Rwanda’s reforms to fight corruption since the mid-1990s bore fruit, and tax revenues increased by 6 percentage points of GDP.
 
These are just two examples that demonstrate that political will to build strong and transparent institutions can turn the tide against corruption. The Fiscal Monitor shines a light on fiscal institutions and policies, like tax administration or procurement practices, and show how they can fight corruption.
 
Nigeria’s tax to GDP ratio of 6.1 per cent is one of the lowest in Africa. The tax to GDP in Lesotho is 42.9%, in Ghana 20.8%, South Africa 26.9%, Kenya 18.4%.
 
Nigeria’s tax to GDP ratio of 6.1 per cent is one of the lowest in Africa. The tax to GDP in Lesotho is 42.9%, in Ghana 20.8%, South Africa 26.9%, Kenya 18.4%.
 
Fighting corruption requires political will to create strong fiscal institutions that promote integrity and accountability throughout the public sector.
 
Based on the research, here are some lessons for countries to help them build effective institutions that curb vulnerabilities to corruption:
 
Invest in high levels of transparency and independent external scrutiny. This allows audit agencies and the public at large to provide effective oversight. For example, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay are using an online platform that allows citizens to monitor the physical and financial progress of investment projects. Norway has developed a high standard of transparency to manage its natural resources. Our analysis also shows that a free press enhances the benefits of fiscal transparency. In Brazil, the results of audits impacted the reelection prospects of officials suspected of misuse of public money, but the impact was greater in areas with local radio stations.
 
Reform institutions. The chances for success are greater when countries design reforms to tackle corruption from all angles. For example, reforms to tax administration will have a greater payoff if tax laws are simpler and they reduce officials’ scope for discretion. To help countries, the IMF has built comprehensive diagnostics on the quality of fiscal institutions, including public investment management, revenue administration, and fiscal transparency.
 
Build a professional civil service. Transparent, merit-based hiring and pay reduce the opportunities for corruption. The heads of agencies, ministries, and public enterprises must promote ethical behaviour by setting a clear tone at the top.
 
Keep pace with new challenges as technology and opportunities for wrongdoing evolve. Focus on areas of higher risk—such as procurement, revenue administration, and management of natural resources—as well as effective internal controls. In Chile and Korea, for example, electronic procurement systems have been powerful tools to curtail corruption by promoting transparency and improving competition.
 
More cooperation to fight corruption. Countries can also join efforts to make it harder for corruption to cross borders. For example, more than 40 countries have already made it a crime for their companies to pay bribes to gain business abroad under the OECD anti-corruption convention. Countries can also aggressively pursue anti–money laundering activities and reduce transnational opportunities to hide corrupt money in opaque financial centers.
 
Curbing corruption is a challenge that requires persevering on many fronts, but one that pays huge dividends. It starts with political will, continuously strengthening institutions to promote integrity and accountability, and global cooperation.
 
 
 
Published in Bank & Finance
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