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Dirty Development Money

When we think about development priorities, we think of disease, nutrition and education, but actually illicit financial flows is a big player. In fact, 20 sub-Saharan Africa countries have lost more than 10% of their GDPs every year since 1980 to illicit financial flows but not many of us know this is happening. 

Bjorn Lomborg addresses the issue of illicit financial flows in this op-ed and describes how the topic can be improved through the post-2015 sustainable development goals. 

But one recommendation – curbing illicit financial flows – was unexpected. After all, at first blush, such flows do not seem to be as powerful or as urgent a threat to people’s wellbeing as, say, not having enough food to survive. Many people do not realize that illicit flows are a problem at all.

Nonetheless, the economist Alex Cobham insists that that curbing such flows should be a high priority. And he makes a strong case.

The Global Financial Integrity Institute (GFI) reports that, in 2011, developing countries lost almost a trillion dollars through illicit transfers to the developed world. In the same way, 20 African countries have lost sums equivalent to more than 10% of their GDP every year since 1980. (In a sense, this makes Africa a net creditor to the world, though it cannot expect to be repaid.) Some $85 billion flowed illegally out of India in 2011.

Click here to read the entire article on Project Syndicate