CAFOD urges oil companies to reform the way they do business in Africa

 Today, as Tony Blair is due to address a high-level international meeting in London focussing on improving transparency in oil industry operations, a CAFOD partner is releasing a report urging critical changes in the way oil is being developed in sub-Saharan Africa. 'Bottom of the Barrel' the report by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) argues that politicians, policymakers, international financial institutions, like the IMF and World Bank, and the oil companies themselves have a unique opportunity to lift the curse of poverty and despotism tied to oil development in many African countries and elsewhere in the world. Katherine Astill, Public Policy Analyst at CAFOD, said: "The meeting could be a crucial turning point in the battle to achieve transparency but the voluntary approach on the table will not lead to changes in the countries where it is most needed. Only a global mandatory framework will ensure that all payments by oil companies to governments are transparent. This report provides the best evidence so far that mismanagement of natural resources is a disaster for most citizens of poor countries." The report conservatively estimates that sub-Saharan African governments will receive more than $200 billion in oil revenues over the coming decade, enabling them to vastly improve lives through investment in health, education, water, roads and other vital necessities. But very few governments are prepared to disclose the revenues they receive from oil companies. Elsewhere ordinary Africans will see little improvement as long as revenues generated by the current oil boom continue to be piped into governments lacking in transparency and accountability. Both CAFOD and CRS, the US-based Catholic aid agency, are members of Publish What You Pay a coalition that has been campaigning for transparency over oil, gas and mining companies' payments to national governments. It led to the setting up of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to increase transparency over payments and revenues in the extractives sector in countries heavily dependent on these resources. To read the report's Executive Summary, visit:

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