Press Release / Feb. 20, 2011

New transparency laws could help millions, says Publish What You Pay

Update: Financial Times - EU closer to US-style financial reform

The Publish What You Pay coalition strongly welcomes the announcement by the UK Government that it will push for the implementation of oil, gas and mining transparency laws in the EU. If introduced, such laws would require that companies listed in the EU publish what they pay to governments for the extraction of minerals around the world. This will improve revenue transparency, helping to eradicate the corruption that has blighted some mineral rich states and improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world.

“Too often the potential for growth and development in countries rich in natural resources is squandered as vast sums of money are misused by unaccountable governments and leaders,” said Jane Allen of Publish What You Pay. “By committing to legally binding measures that will make these payments open to scrutiny, the UK and Europe can play a critical role in fighting corruption and poverty.  We look forward to working closely with the UK Government in their efforts to push for strong transparency laws across Europe,” continued Allen.

Revenue transparency legislation in the EU would build on the requirements in the US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (July 2010) which requires all oil, mining and gas companies registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to report their payments to foreign governments on a country-by-country, and a project-by-project basis. It would also compliment the work of other multi-stakeholder transparency initiatives such as the global Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) which brings together companies, governments and civil society to track those payments into national accounts.

Hong Kong has recently improved the disclosure of its companies’ payments as a condition of listing on its exchange too, so momentum is building towards a global consensus to improve revenue transparency across all major markets.

“Support from the UK Government is vital as the London Stock Exchange is one of the largest and most important financial markets in the world, where more than a trillion pounds worth of oil, gas and mining shares are listed”, said Gavin Hayman of Global Witness.  “This announcement represents a major step forward in making sure that people in countries rich in natural resources reap the benefits.  We would like to see similar legislation being adopted by other G20 members in the near future,” added Hayman.

“We welcome this important development. The fact that the coalition government is championing legally binding measures for the extractives sector - an industry particularly vulnerable to corruption - shows that they are listening to the demands of the global grassroots Publish What You Pay campaign. Citizens across the world are uniting to insist that the proceeds of natural resource wealth become a blessing, not a curse, and help finance development, not corruption," said Jamie Drummond at ONE.

“Full disclosure of payments to governments empowers citizens with information critical for curbing corruption and is also a powerful tool to help investors lower their risk,” said Karin Lissakers of the Revenue Watch Institute. “This type of legislation sets a higher global standard for financial transparency.”

There is a huge network of civil society organisations in resource-rich, but poor countries ready to use this information and hold their governments to account. “These transparency laws will give us the hard data we need to demand investment in services like health and education from our governments, rather than seeing the revenues from our valuable natural resources lost to corruption and mismanagement,” said Faith Nwadishi of Publish What You Pay Nigeria.


Notes to editors:

Britain backs 'publish what you pay' rule for oil and mining firms in Africa

A fresh chapter is opening in Africa's history

For more information contact:

Andrea Pattison at Global Witness: [email protected] +44 (0)7970 103 083

Katie Martin at ONE: [email protected] +44 (0)7500 797 599

Joseph Williams at Publish What You Pay: [email protected] +44 (0)7775 751 170

Publish What You Pay (PWYP) is a global civil society network with over 600 member groups across more than 50 resource-rich countries like Nigeria, Angola, Cambodia and Kazakhstan which are united in their call for oil, gas and mining revenues to form the basis for development and improve the lives of ordinary citizens in resource-rich countries.

Official PWYP membership in the UK: Action Aid, Amnesty International United Kingdom, Burma Campaign, CAFOD, Campaign Against Arms Trade, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, Engineers Against Poverty, Global Poverty Project, Global Witness, The ONE Campaign, Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Great Britain, Revenue Watch Institute, Save the Children UK,

Tearfund, Transparency International, United Nations Association of the UK.