G8 add its support for transparency
May 31st, 2011 10:08 AM UTC
By Friederike Röder
Zitto Kabwe, who was one of the panellists at the launch of the DATA Report in Berlin, is a remarkable Tanzanian MP.
On the one hand because of his age, after several years in parliament he is still the youngest MP, but also because he has succeeded in drawing Tanzanian and international public attention to dubious negotiating practices between his country and a Canadian company. In particular he criticized the fact that the Tanzanian parliament had not even had the possibility to see the contract in question. This has earned him a suspension from parliament and several alleged murder attempts.
Zitto should therefore be happy about the final G8 declaration last week: For the first time, the G8 supported legislative measures to guarantee the transparency of contracts in the extractives’ sector. This is a crucial step towards greater transparency that will allow citizens to know the exact amount of revenues generated by their natural resources – revenues that should be at their disposal to help lift their communities out of poverty.
We must congratulate the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and US President Barack Obama for having included such a paragraph in the declaration. And not only for that, but also for the fact that they have started implementation. Thanks to last year’s Dodd-Frank legislation in the US, all extractive companies listed on the New York Stock exchange will soon be forced to lay open their payments. The same holds for Europe where the European Commission is preparing a similar law.
Will this mean Zitto will no longer need to spend his time chasing down copies of contracts his country has concluded? This is not a given, unfortunately. The G8′s declaration is an important step, but other countries have to follow suit. First of all, the declaration keeps the door open for voluntary measures, a door that some countries, such as Canada, will be using for sure.
Then, of course, the devil is in the details. In this case in the details of future legislation, in particular the one that the EU will discuss in October. It will have to ensure that whole companies can’t escape the law (for instance because of their small size) or that part of the payments made will remain secret.
Much therefore remains to be done. So watch this space as ONE continues to campaign on this critical issue.
Source: The ONE BLOG