Wed, Feb 22, 2012 - Page 10 News List

EU pushes for transparency in natural resource deals

AFP, BRUSSELS

The EU took a step on Monday toward ending secret deals between governments and large oil, gas, mining and logging firms by demanding that companies disclose payments in countries where they operate.

Industry ministers from the 27-nation bloc approved a plan by the European Commission that aims “to help fight corruption, abuse of public resources and money-laundering,” Danish Minster of Economic and Business Affairs Ole Sohn said.

The proposal calls for about 600 listed and non-listed firms involved in the extractive industry or in logging primary forests to disclose payments they make to governments in each country where they operate and for each project, European Commissioner for Internal Markets and Services Michel Barnier said.

However, while there was general agreement on the need to improve transparency, further discussion will be needed on details, notably on whether the disclosure must be made on a project-by-project basis.

“Getting the detail right is critical,” said Alexander Woollcombe of ONE, a global non-governmental organization. “Detailed payments must be disclosed at the project level, that’s what ordinary people in developing countries tell us they want.”

“A strong final law will empower citizens in developing countries with information they need to ensure revenues are invested in healthcare, transport and education, instead of lining the pockets of a few,” he added.

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