Recent Articles

The Revenue Watch Institute urges the Senate to take swift action on the bipartisan "Energy Security through Transparency Act of 2009," introduced today by Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The bill, which will revise U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines, is a small change that will spark great rewards in financial and political stability for the energy sector worldwide and here in the United States.
NEW YORK—The Revenue Watch Institute praised U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today for the department's welcome decision to end a program allowing energy companies to pay government royalties in oil and gas instead of in cash. Mired in scandal over mismanagement and fraternization between regulators and industry employees, the Royalty-In-Kind (RIK) program has suffered from weak oversight and a dangerous lack of transparency.
On September 15, an appeals court in Niger ordered the provisional release of detained transparency activist and PWYP member Marou Amadou. Amadou has been held since August 11 for "undermining state authority" amid a wave of broader restrictions on the free speech of Nigerien civil society, transparency activists and members of the press.
In the heightened political climate surrounding Iraq's upcoming election, lawmakers and others in Iraq are criticizing the country's pending natural gas deal with Shell Oil, saying that it offers lopsided benefits to the international oil giant and that it was drafted without adequate transparency or oversight.
Revenue Watch and its partners in Ghana took a remarkable step in building local capacity this July, with the launch of our first Africa Regional Extractive Industry Knowledge Hub in Accra. The Hub will be a training resource on extractives and related governance issues for members of civil society, parliament, media and sub-national governments from throughout West Africa. The Hub is a pilot program that RWI plans to replicate over the next several years in other resource-rich regions, including Latin America, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and Southeast Asia.
News from Iraq indicates that on July 28 the Cabinet agreed upon a bill establishing a new National Oil Company (NOC), to help develop the country's petroleum and ramp up production to meet the government's pressing revenue needs. The details of the bill have not been released, but a strong commercial company with a clear mandate could be instrumental in the revitalization of Iraq's oil sector. However, this enabling legislation cannot be a stand-alone action. A national company will be doomed to fail if it arrives unaccompanied by core laws to govern Iraq's oil sector.
This August, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) released a working draft of its new guidelines for extractive activities. Accounting standards regulate the information companies must publish in annual financial reports, including a company's property, payments, revenues, profits and losses.
The international Publish What You Pay coalition reports that yet another Nigerien transparency activist, Wada Maman, was arrested by authorities on August 22. Maman, the Secretary General of Transparency International's Niger chapter and a PWYP member, was released on bail on August 26, and is charged with "public property damage" and "participation in an unauthorized gathering," after demonstrating against changes in presidential term limits.
Publish What You Pay International cheers the release of human rights and transparency campaigner Golden Misabiko by authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Misabiko, who is in poor health, was arrested on July 24 and charged with "undermining State security," "making defamatory statements" and "inciting public rebellion against state authorities."
On August 16 the civil society leadership within Niger's Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative announced their collective withdrawal from the process until the Nigerien government provides both a greater guarantee of safety and non-harassment of activists for good governance, and the unconditional release of detained transparency activist Marou Amadou. The detention of Amadou comes amidst broader restrictions on the free speech of Nigerien civil society, transparency activists and members of the press.
NEW YORK—The Revenue Watch Institute, together with the international Publish What You Pay coalition, calls on authorities in Niger to immediately release Marou Amadou, a leader in the struggle for extractive industries transparency and a member of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Niger. On August 12, Amadou was discharged by a Nigerien court after appearing on charges of "regionalist propaganda" and "inciting disobedience." Immediately upon his release, he was seized by national security forces and placed in police custody.
Uganda's nascent oil sector has taken important steps during 2009. Early production was initially scheduled to begin in June, but was postponed after the discovery of additional reserves and the announcement of tentative plans for a new government refinery that could produce heavy fuel oil for electricity generation. (The government is currently seeking potential investors.) In the legislative realm, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has been shaping a framework to implement the National Oil and Gas policy enacted in January, 2008. This framework is still under discussion in the cabinet.
Revenue Watch Institute is pleased to introduce its new Capacity Advancement Fellows for 2009-2010: Dionisio Augusto Nombora, of the Center for Public Integrity in Mozambique, and Jamus Joseph, of Norwegian People's Aid Southern Sudan Program. The CA Fellowship aims to build the capacity of mid-career civil society activists by deepening their understanding of the extractive industries and broadening their skills to connect local, national, and international campaigns. 
On August 5, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a strong call for transparency and accountability as part of her 11-day tour of Africa. In remarks delivered at the 8th Forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in Nairobi, Kenya, Clinton argued that economic development in Africa depends on cooperation between government, industry and civil society in pushing for better governance—a roster of actors that mirrors the multi-stakeholder approach advocated by the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative—as well as responsible management of natural resource wealth.
NEW YORK—The Revenue Watch Institute joined the international Publish What You Pay coalition today in calling for authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to immediately release Golden Misabiko, a campaigner for transparency and human rights. Misabiko was arrested on July 24 by the Agence nationale de renseignement (ANR), the national intelligence office, and charged with "undermining State security" and "making defamatory statements."
This July, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) was awarded the Society of Professional Journalists' national Sunshine Award for its contributions in the area of open government. The award was based on three 2008 POGO investigations, including their 13-year investigation into the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS), which exposed a culture of widespread managerial irresponsibility.
The Revenue Watch Institute applauds the Liberian government for its recent passage of the Liberian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act: the most thorough legislation of its kind in any resource-rich nation. The LEITI Act, which requires that all extractive payments due to the country are verified, accounted for and utilized for the benefit of Liberian citizens, builds on ongoing efforts to promote greater transparency and accountability in Liberia, through disaggregated reporting and the disclosure and review of contracts.
Transparency was at the forefront of discussions on Europe's energy future at the summit on "Natural Gas for Europe: Security and Partnership" in Sofia, Bulgaria this spring. In the Declaration of the Sofia Energy Summit, participating government workers, heads of state and diplomats agreed upon the need for transparency, accountability and improved public financial reporting concerning the energy sector. The Declaration affirmed several principles for natural gas policies in Europe.
On June 26, 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ended his historic four-day visit to Africa. During his trip, Medvedev and a group of Russian businessmen visited Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, and Namibia. In 2006, Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin visited South Africa and Morocco without generating any visible progress on economic ties between Russia and African countries. However, the situation has changed.
On Friday, July 31, Oxfam America and Revenue Watch Institute will present two public panel discussions on the connection between natural resources, conflict and political stability in Latin America.
NEW YORK—On the eve of President Barack Obama's historic visit to Ghana, the Revenue Watch Institute called on the West African country to make good governance the centerpiece of its energy policy. With Ghana poised to become a major African oil power, Ghanaian and American leaders must hold both their countries to the highest standards of transparency.
On June 16, 2009, citizen leaders and politicians gathered in Lima as a new process was announced for public dialogue on the development of the Amazon region. A new arrival in Lima would find it hard to imagine that the parties gathered and smiling for a photograph today were two weeks ago engaged in an all out confrontation that would lead to the death of at least 34 policemen and native activists, leave the country highly polarized and seriously damage the democratic regime.
On Thursday Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, the Co-Chair of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, called for resource-rich countries to be more transparent about the revenues that oil, gas or minerals generate for their countries. Improved transparency, Hastings said, would help alleviate poverty, promote stable investment, and enhance energy security to help create more stable business environments and democratic governments.
The IBP, which released its annual Open Budget Index for 2008 this February, has created a new brief exploring the importance of budget transparency for donors, to help ensure the effectiveness of aid to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth while preventing leakages, corruption, and mismanagement.
As part of "EITI Week" in Washington, D.C., the World Bank hosted a meeting on May 13 to facilitate a discussion among multiple EITI stakeholders about the state of EITI reporting and how it can be improved. The format and content of EITI reports has long been a source of local and international debate. Before the EITI was launched, amid careful rounds of negotiations among companies, governments, and civil society actors, the founders agreed not to require all countries to report their payments and receipts in a format disaggregated company by company.