WASHINGTON— Countries rich in oil, gas and other natural resources should be more transparent about revenues received from such resources, Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) said today.
The remarks echo the call Congressman Hastings made last week in a keynote address to almost 100 parliamentarians at a conference of 30 countries in Dublin, Ireland, meeting to discuss remedies to the economic crisis. The conference, organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliament of Ireland, covered such topics as free trade, financial regulation, good governance, and the social consequences of the crisis for migrants.
Through his work in the U.S. Congress and on the Helsinki Commission, Congressman Hastings has been a constant champion for more transparency in the extractive industries.
“Improvements in revenue transparency, particularly when we focus on the extractive industries, are important in at least three key ways: The first is to help alleviate poverty. Three-point-five billion people live in countries that are rich in oil, gas and minerals. With good governance the exploitation of these resources can generate large revenues to foster growth and reduce poverty. Resource revenue transparency is necessary in order for citizens – the true owners of their country’s natural wealth – to be able to demand greater accountability from their governments for spending that serves the public interest,” Congressman Hastings said.
“The second is to promote stable investment climates. Mandatory disclosure can help diminish the political instability caused by opaque governance. Since extractive industries are capital-intensive and dependent on long-term stability to generate returns, transparency of payments made to a government can help mitigate political and reputational risks and also allow shareholders to make better-informed assessments of opportunity costs.
The third area is to enhance energy security. Opening the extractive industries sector to greater public scrutiny is key to increasing civil society participation in government. This form of transparency, in conjunction with an increasingly active civil society, can help create more stable, democratic governments, as well as stable business environments.”