Friday, October 08, 2010

Revenue Watch Index of transparency in oil, gas mining

From Revenue Watch:
A pioneering new measurement of government public disclosure in managing oil, gas and minerals ranks Brazil and Norway highest among 41 countries for making public detailed information about these key resources, the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and Transparency International (TI) announced today.

Russia, Mexico and Chile ranked third through fifth, respectively. The United States was 11th in the Revenue Watch Index, a landmark comparison of a cross-section of major producers of petroleum, gold, copper and diamonds. Turkmenistan ranked last, below Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 56-page report compares how much the 41 governments disclose publically about the money they receive for oil, gas and minerals exploitation, and about contracts and other basic data. In nearly all these countries, natural resources are public assets, and the revenues are managed in trust by the government on behalf of its citizens.

“We found that in too many countries, governments give citizens little information about this crucial part of the economy,” said RWI Director Karin Lissakers, who released the Index at a briefing in Washington, D.C. “Without access to information, the public has very limited influence on how governments manage the resources and how governments use the revenues.”

Government openness about its income is essential to combat high-level corruption and reduce citizens’ mistrust of how government uses its funds, the report concludes. Transparent, accountable management of these revenues is also fundamental to economic development and political stability. Openness does not guarantee good governance, but transparency is one of its essential building blocks.

“Our findings are a call to lawmakers and civil society to focus their attention on the weaknesses pinpointed by the Index and to press for specific reforms for greater openness," said Christiaan Poortman, TI’s director of global programs.

Oil, gas and mining play a critical role in the global economy. Petroleum and its byproducts account for 15 percent of world trade, and oil and mining account for up to 80 percent of the gross national product of the countries included in the Index.

See the Executive Summary here and the index here.


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