Global Witness spokespeople are available to comment on the UK government’s announcement that it intends to attach new conditions to parts of Britain’s 8.4 billion pound ($13.2 billion) annual aid budget, to encourage transparency in developing nations.
This commitment is a good start – transparent government is essential to prevent corruption and help move states onto a path of equitable and sustainable development.
However, to ensure their aid delivers real results for developing economies, the UK and others need to do more to ensure accountability over the biggest income source for many of these countries – their natural resources.
The announcement, which came ahead of Tuesday’s meeting in New York of the Open Government Partnership – a new grouping of countries pressing for increased government openness – claimed Britain will push for greater openness from nations who receive aid money, donors with poor records of disclosing where taxpayers’ cash is spent, and NGOs carrying out work funded by donor nations.
However, aid only provides a small fraction of incoming revenue for many developing countries. In 2009, the value of exports of oil and minerals for South and Central America, Africa and Asia was over 10 times the value of aid to these three regions. Too often, though, the benefits of these natural assets are lost to poor governance, conflict and corruption. This corruption is facilitated by a lack of transparency both in incoming revenues but also in the way they are spent.
“Natural resources, not aid, will provide the main source of income for many developing countries for years to come. This resource money should be used to reduce poverty and drive development. To make sure this happens, revenue transparency must go beyond money that comes from international donors and include management of the resource sector,” said George Boden, Global Witness Campaigner.
Countries like Angola, Cambodia and Congo Brazzaville have all squandered their resources whilst at the same time receiving billions of dollars in development aid.
“Strong transparency and accountability requirements, as well as robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks should be attached to aid,” said Boden. “Too often, aid has propped up essential services such as health & education, whilst resource wealth is stolen. Where there is evidence of chronic state looting in the natural resource sector by corrupt elites, and a lack of political will to reform, the UK and others should consider whether they can continue to support these governments over the long term.”
Global Witness is available for comment. Please contact George Boden on 07808 767134, [email protected]
Notes: This announcement was first reported by the Press Association here