CAFOD calls for end to corruption in oil and mining industries

 In the week that multi-national companies and governments meet in London to discuss transparency in extractive industries in developing countries, CAFOD has called upon Western governments to take tougher action to end secrecy over payments for oil, gas and minerals. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative conference in London today will ask developing countries and companies to commit to minimum standards in transparency, and declare how much revenue is received from the extractive industries. Payments made by oil, gas and mining companies to governments are not in themselves corrupt but if they are kept secret they can facilitate corruption. While welcoming the progress that the EITI has made in bringing the issue to the fore, CAFOD urges the British Government, which is spearheading the initiative, to recognise that full transparency cannot be achieved by this voluntary scheme alone. "Corruption in the extractive industries is not just an issue for developing countries" said CAFOD policy analyst Anne Lindsay, "When G8 countries are debating how to tackle corruption in Africa they must acknowledge that they play a role in allowing that corruption to continue. Payments from extractive industries have been used to fund wars and to line the offshore pockets of a favoured few. Continuing secrecy is denying desperately poor people a share in the natural wealth of their own countries." "The new EITI minimum criteria are an important step but we can't depend on one initiative alone to deliver revenue transparency. G8 governments can take action now by requiring companies to publish what they pay to governments wherever they operate. This would mean that information about payments would be available to all citizens of resource-rich countries even if their governments hadn't signed up to EITI. " This week a CAFOD part-funded report 'Beyond the Rhetoric' will be released by the Save the Children Fund. The report shows that transparency within the oil and gas sector is poor. Only two of the 25 companies assessed in the Measuring Transparency framework used in the report, scored over 30%. Both are Canadian companies subject to Canadian securities law, which requires companies to publish royalty payments to foreign governments. The Commission for Africa report released last week recommended that developed country governments, company shareholders and consumers should put pressure on companies to be more transparent in their activities in developing countries and to adhere to international codes and standards for behaviour." CAFOD partner Archbishop Francisco Zacarias Kamwenho is one of the Angolan civil society representatives at the EITI conference. His country is Africa's second largest oil producer after Nigeria, yet has one of the world's worst levels of poverty ranking 166 out of 173 countries in United Nations development criteria. Last year the Episcopal Council in Angola called for transparency in management of all revenues from extractive industry. In reply the Angolan government released limited details of one bonus paid. It is estimated that each year around $1billion of Angolan oil revenues remain unaccounted for in a country where around two thirds of the population live below the poverty line. CAFOD is part of the Make Poverty History coalition calling for a fairer deal for the world's poor in trade laws, more development aid and cancellation of debt. Part of the MPH manifesto calls for regulation of big companies making them accountable for their social and environmental impact both in the UK and abroad.

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