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17/03/2003 | Oil Firms Should Declare Payments To Corrupt Regimes

Martin Edwin Andersen

 

Currency trader George Soros has been pushing a simple but potentially revolutionary idea for fighting global corruption, and it appears to be gaining adherents. One of the biggest bones of contention among transnational oil, gas and mining companies, as well as the people in the countries where they do business, is that the latter see little of the billions paid to the governments of such less-developed countries as, say, Angola and Nigeria. It should come as no surprise that government corruption and mismanagement often mean that the people end up reaping the whirlwind instead of the windfall from their natural resources.

Soros, his Open Society Institute and a growing coalition of global activists on the left are promoting a "Publish What You Pay" campaign to ensure that resource-generated revenues are managed and distributed with greater accountability. The groups are demanding that the governments of developed countries establish mandatory rules for global extractive industries that require them to publish such information as net taxes, fees, royalties and other payments. In this way, if money is misappropriated, the people will know about it and can take whatever action is appropriate.

The campaign has won the support of a coalition that includes Transparency International, Oxfam and Amnesty International. Experts point out that each year billions of dollars in revenues are siphoned off by crooked Third World politicians, who leave their own populations in poverty and without the means for successful economic and social development. A key element of the campaign is getting stock-market regulators to force extractive companies to report net payments to all national governments as a condition for being listed on the world exchanges. Supporters of the initiative say that by so leveling the playing field in tough foreign neighborhoods, it is less likely that principled and transparent companies would be undercut by unscrupulous competitors. For more information on the campaign, and what you can do to help, contact www.publishwhatyoupay.org.

Martin Edwin Andersen is a reporter for Insight. Readers can reach him with tips on governmental waste, fraud and abuse of power at InsightWatchers@aol.com.

Insight Magazine (Estados Unidos)

 


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