The decision by the United States to publish information on Iraq’s oil revenues, and on the way they are spent, is a welcome first step towards transparency in Iraq’s oil industry.
Under the new spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, signed into law by President Bush this week, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq must submit to U.S. legislators a monthly report “which details, for the preceding month, Iraqi oil production and oil revenues, and the use of such revenues.” The reports must be published in English and Arabic, including via the CPA’s website.
“This provision means that the Iraqi people should be able to see how much money their oil is earning and what that money is being spent on. Given the vast sums wasted by corruption and unaccountable government in many oil-rich countries, this is good news,” said Simon Taylor, director of Global Witness.1
Global Witness is a founding member of the Publish What You Pay global coalition, which campaigns for oil and mining companies to publish their payments to governments, and for governments to publish their receipts from these resources. Such disclosure would make it easier for citizens to double-check where their money goes.2
The U.S. move comes in the same week as a dramatic announcement by Nigeria that it plans to publicly disclose all the revenues its government receives from oil and gas. Nigeria, the largest oil-producing country in Africa, has been dogged in the past by massive misappropriation of oil wealth by state officials.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo announced the move today in Berlin, at the tenth anniversary meeting of Transparency International, the anti-corruption group of which he was a founder. Nigeria will go even further than the U.S. in Iraq by not only disclosing state earnings from oil and gas but also requiring companies in the country to individually publish their payments to state agencies.
“We welcome both moves as major steps forward in implementing transparency,” said Taylor. “In particular, the Nigerian model of both state and company accountability, coming from Africa’s biggest oil producer, has set a standard that others must follow.”
The US and Nigeria are both participants in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the UK-led campaign for greater openness in the oil and mining industries.3
Contact Simon Taylor or Sarah Wykes. Office: +44 (0)207 272 6731
or mobiles: +44(0)7957 142 121/+44 (0)7947 008580
(1) Global Witness investigates the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. Global Witness has been co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in uncovering how diamonds have funded civil wars across Africa.
(2) The Publish What You Pay campaign was launched in June 2002 and now has more than 170 members (see www.publishwhatyoupay.org
(3) Information on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is available at: www.dfid.gov.uk
Press Release / Nov. 7, 2003